Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Big Pebble In My Shoe

I spent my weekend wandering down memory lane. It was wonderful. For me, memory lane is partially located in Santa Maria, CA in a tiny little house that has been in my family for 71 years. There is a door that has measured the growth of every member of four generations of my paternal family. There is a collection of trinkets and figurines that represent the interests of my great-grandparents, grandparents and others. But most of all there is a chest.

The chest contains photo albums and portraits from generations ago. My great-grandmother kept a photo album and collected everything from dance cards to a paper posy from the first Armistace Day. There are first communion photos in which we play "Spot the Relative." And there is my grandpa's Army photo album - pretty cool.

Then there are photos containing people who I remember. Events I remember. And now, events I didn't get to see because I wasn't welcome. Why would someone continue to stare at photos of people who have made it clear they don't want you? Why would I examine every stage of his development to see how much I looked like him when I was 3 (and how much the Littlest Ms. Eris looks like him now)? Why would I go through albums that show me absent at anniversaries and reunions and birthday parties? Because they are my history. Isn't it the emotional equivalent of cutting?

It is a tough walk to take, and I have taken it a few times now. Fortunately, this time I was not alone. Athena had never looked through most of this collection and she was surprised to see the resemblance to her own kids. Cuz2you was facing this for the first time and I felt for her. Meemoo mourns in a different way than I, but she got some new insights and I look forward to our next adventure.

In the end, I think these trips down memory lane are good for me. I feel more connected to this family - my family - that loves me, but I don't see this connection as forged through a defective link. Now, I see it as my grandpa's smile and my grandma's nose and (I'd like to think) my great-grandma's spunk. I will keep going back because like Bridget Jones "I refuse to be defeated."


cuz2u said...

That was awesome. I had a blast. I do wish you could have been there sooner. Maybe next time we won't have to fly over 300 miles to see each other.

'boo said...

What an experience! (this is your friendly neighborhood cyberstalker saying "hi")

Muriel said...

That was a very eloquent way to put it. How did I miss Grandpa's Army album? Oh wait, I remember, Grandma and Grandpa are now the proud owners of a plunger. I had a great time even though we didn't get there as originally planned (but I won't give up the price of stand-by travel).

Muriel said...

And I'm sure everything will be in the exact pile that you left it in. Since you seem to be the only one who opens the trunk.