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  • My great-grandmother on my mother's side was a Primitive Baptist. While, none of her children or grand-children continued that religious tradition, there is something about the idea of foot washing and Shape Note singing (a cappella singing) that is so organic for me. I am Jewish which is pretty different from Primitive Baptists, however, the symbolism of foot washing is not lost on me. Serving others, emulating the religious leaders of the past, being subservient to something more than your own ego and your own hubris is, I believe, a fundamental tenet of religions that follow G-d/Yahweh/Jehovah. Shape Note singing is so pure and harmonious - just the instruments of the human body being used to worship and praise the One who gave us this world and this life. My great-grandmother was all of that in my eyes: humble, serving, giving, helping, caring, pure, and balanced.

    For me, my great-grandmother was a joy and delight! I know she was a stern, prim and proper woman who demanded her children (especially her only daughter) to comport themselves according to her ideas. That didn't really work out for her, but she tried. With me, she was a teacher, comforter, companion, and storyteller. She taught me to sew. She soothed me when I had bad dreams. She took me fishing and let me help her in the garden. She told me wonderful stories - my favorite being "Beanseye and Peaseye" - over and over and over again. Oh, how I wish I had those stories on audio tape now!

    Her snow white hair was long, floating down her back to her waist. It was like spun cotton, so soft and delicate. Every day she would undo her night braid and brush it out before winding it into a bun. It was like a cloud from heaven on her head. I remember hoping that I would have hair like that when I was an old woman. I still do.

    There was a picture of Jesus on the wall of her room and a plaque with the sheet music and words to "Amazing Grace" on another wall. I know the verses well and the song whether sung, played on bagpipes, or just hummed brings me to tears to this day. I miss her and all she was to me.

    So, when I'm feeling lonely for the love of my great-grandmother, this Jewish girl sings "Amazing Grace".

    Music is a free download from the Florida Memory website:
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