Sunday, June 12, 2011

Generations

Come summer, I begin to doubt what I am doing here. I don't know why the warm weather brings that on, but I begin to I feel as if I am just navel-gazing, who cares anyway, and I start to write less. I'm there now. What happens then is I start to post pictures, because this blog is still a place to put photographs I want to hold on to, which I imagine will be somehow safer with a home online. Our external hard drive at home is caput, we think it must have fallen over, and now it merely whines when we turn it on. Ironically, that hard drive was bought to serve as the backup for everything on our computers, and if we can't somehow retrieve its contents we will have lost years and years of images, documents, files. So I will post pictures and maybe write down the memories they evoke.

This photo above is of my cousins, five of the seven children born to my mother's oldest brother Percy. This was taken about a decade before I was born. My cousins are on the verandah of my grandmother's house at Little Kew Road in Jamaica. I am jealous sometimes that they knew my mother's mother, who is the stuff of legend in our family when the stories are told. She died when I was three. I have a single memory of her. She was ill and declining and we went to visit her. She was bedridden and as we walked into the room, I crouched against my mother, who coaxed me to go and hug and kiss my grandmother. I didn't budge. I just huddled under my mother, aware in that moment of her disappointment in me, her feeling of hurt that her child would not embrace her mother, whom she loved so dearly. I remember my grandmother, we called her Mama, just looked at me gently, a smile in her eyes and she said, "Let her be. She will come and kiss me when she is good and ready." I don't know that I ever did, I hope I did, because I remember feeling that her eyes were the kindest I had ever seen, and her love for me shone from them. She made me, a child already of aware of being awkward in my skin, feel completely whole and right. It is my only memory of Mama, but from the stories, I know she managed to make everyone feel exactly that way.

The second photo is another snapshot of cousins, two generations later. I've posted this picture before, it's one of my favorites, but today it seems to want to accompany the black and white image above. This picture was taken at Sea World in Orlando on a massive group vacation we took in the summer of 2001. Seven family units are represented here. My son is in the green cap and white tee, he is 9 years old. My daughter, wearing the blue striped top, is trying to get her little cousin to look at the camera. She is 7 years old. My niece in the khaki cap and blue tee shirt, is the oldest at 11 years. I feel so embraced by my family. If we choose our incarnations as some faith systems suggest, then clearly I chose this big rambling family so I could have a place to belong. And indeed, apart from my husband and children, it is among my cousins that I feel most at ease in my skin. We are all intentionally trying to foster that for our children as well.

15 comments:

  1. I love this post, Angella! It's the same way in our family--I have five brothers and sisters and we all have children for a total of 11 cousins. We are scattered about New England and try hard to make sure the cousins connect. There is always at least one occasion--Christmas--where we are all together. Summer months we usually gather for a BBQ. It's a wonder to watch the children evolve separately, while remaining close. Fostering closeness is a beautiful thing, and those children will appreciate it when their older (well, I think they do already). :)

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  2. such a beautiful family. it says a lot that you've kept these photos. you can see the resemblance too

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  3. such wonderful photos...thanks for sharing the memories.

    we just had a gathering in metro dc which brought together many extended family members....including many of my many cousins - it is always such a joy to be transported to past, present and future when the cousins converge!!

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  4. Here I am, sitting in my house in Lloyd after having spent all day with my children and my grandson and I see these pictures and I think, "Mmmm...family."
    This is what I love about the Blog World. We find our cousins in the family of us all.
    Would it be wrong to say that I see cousins in these pictures? I hope not.
    Love you, Angella.
    M

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  5. oops. tried to post, but couldnt.
    trying again: i espec love the b&w photo. despite the posed lining up, it completely lacks calculation, is all about innocence, purity.

    i, too, have trouble with words sometimes, and then the photographs are all i can say.

    xxoo

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  6. I love these literal and figurative snapshots of your life and family -- so beautiful and evocative of love and bonds.

    And as for memories and hard drives -- I recommend Mozy. It's an online back-up program that is priced really reasonably. It backs up your hard drive every day for around $50 a year.

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  7. 'a place to belong' that is what we seek, we humans, isn't it.

    I know what you mean about using blog as backup but you know it would never surprise me to come online one day and find out that blogger had lost it all, maybe a backup for the backup, maybe mozy as elizabeth suggests, not that I've ever heard of it.

    lovely post.

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  8. Probably you already know how much I love stories about your family :)The second photo is the funny one. They all are so cute. I am smiling...

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  9. Sigh, I must admit that I am envious of your large, beautiful, loving family, dear Angella. I once had a brother, but now I am an only child, something that I never thought I would be. I am certainly grateful for the fact that I once had a brother, not so very long ago, because I always felt sad for my friends who were only children. I am ever so grateful for the 41 years that I had a brother.

    Funny that I was able to pick your son and daughter out of the second photo before you even pointed them out. I am enjoying getting to know your lovely family, but most especially, you, dear one.

    Hugs and love,
    Debbie

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  10. Love the pictures, love the facts that your kids seem to appreciate and love their cousins as much as you do yours.
    Your family is so beautiful.
    Hugs
    Miss A

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  11. Jayne, your family sounds wonderful. It's so great to be one of so many siblings. I have actually thought I should have had more children so my son and daughter would know what that feels like. But they have their cousins.

    Candice, it's true that there is a look that when I was growing up, always marked me as being part of this family, in the smallish place I'm from.

    mouse, how wonderful to be fresh from a family gathering that connected you to sweet memories.

    Mark, thank you, friend. Love your stories, too!

    Ms. Moon, I so know what you mean. Yes, we are cousins, which makes our extended loved ones connected too. Love to you.

    Susan t., i love the lack of calculation, as you put it. And the reflection of that tree in the window always draws me, too.

    Elizabeth, thank you! Mozy. We will definitely check it out. Love.

    Dierdre, here, too, is a place one might belong, and thank you. and yeah, i'm not so sure about blogger these days...

    Olga, they make me smile, too! Thank you.

    Debra, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother, and in another more temporary way, your nieces, but you have created that which you miss in your daughters. It's so beautiful to see.

    Miss A, my kids do have a really strong sense of family, and I'm grateful they do. xo

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  12. Angella, I just love your whole family. :)

    And I sincerely hope your hard drive can be recovered, that is a bitter pain that I hope you can avoid.

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  13. Gratitude to you who helps to heal my heart with kindness...

    Thank you, love.

    Big hugs.

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  14. ellen, thank you, friend. :)

    Debra, we are are healing circle here, i do believe that. thank you for being here. love.

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