Tuesday, March 19, 2013

All is story


For years now, one of my cousins has insisted that I am to write the history of our family. She says she knows this because our great grandmother Amanda comes to her in her dreams and tells her things, and this is one of the things she told her. I always laugh and demur, because my cousin tells me this like it's an imperative, a criticism that I'm tarrying over my given task and need to get started. And, too, our great grandmother Amanda is so convenient in her comings and goings to this cousin, and the pronouncements that attend her appearances often seem to be after the fact, and with a big dollop of story thrown in. But now I'm thinking, why take issue with a little storytelling, especially since it has recently occured to me that I am in fact writing a kind of family history here on this blog, even if most of my family members don't know it exists. So maybe my cousin does speak to our great grandmother Amanda from time to time. Who am I to quibble with her claims of channeling this famously sweet spirit in her dreams?

As I was musing on all this, another cousin (there are a lot of cousins) sent me a New York Times piece on how giving one's children a family narrative, sharing stories that give them a sense of being connected to something that has weathered upturns and downturns and endured for generations, can make those children more resilient. Two researchers did a study through the course of years, and found that those children who knew such details as how their parents met, where their grandparents went to school, why that cousin was arrested, how this one's grandfather won the battle with alcohol, how that aunt loved to make a sale, were able to manage life's little and big crises more readily.

Which got me thinking again. I write this blog for myself, as a way to process, often for my own sanity. But sometimes I write it for my children, too, including my niece who reads here, as a record of our lives, a preservation of memories, and—it turns out—as proof that sad times, inconvenient emotional chemistry, occasional squabbles and sketchy actions by some family members, do not outweigh the gift of loving one another. Through the years I have watched this family enfold those of us who falter, never condoning bad behavior, demanding that we come correct, never hesitating to tell even the scalding truths, yet never letting each other go. This is the legacy of my mother and her siblings, the nine, and of their mother Ione, and also of her mother Amanda, who speaks to my cousin in the night.

The photo is of Aunt Maisy's back yard in Orlando. I can still see and hear my children and their cousins a decade ago playing slip-and-slide in a plastic pool on that lawn.


18 comments:

  1. Yes, yes.

    Sorry my comments are short or nonexistent on your posts. I am here, reading and supporting. It's just that your words are so beautiful and you say everything so completely that I have nothing to add.

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    1. Thank you, NOLA darling. I love that you come around.

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  2. Sometimes I wonder what in hell I'm doing, writing away on this blog-thing every day and then I think, well, if nothing else, my grandsons can go back one day (maybe?) and see how much they were loved.
    There is a story there. We all have stories. I do think you're right- they are all important.

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    1. Ms. Moon, i often think about the record you are creating for your grandsons, and how much they will treasure it. No maybe about it. And you know what? Your children, too.

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  3. My advice? Listen to your dreaming cousin.

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  4. I totally understand this part, " I write this blog for myself, as a way to process, often for my own sanity. But sometimes I write it for my children, too,"

    My daughter has unknowingly directed my path at important stages of my life. My blog and the stories I tell there, the way I sort things out online ... those are little pieces of my heart. And if I'm ever not able to be there for her (as in dead) she will have something to refer back to when she wants to remember who we were together and apart.

    Lovely post ... and just what I needed tonight.

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    1. Elizabeth, i am so taken with your insight that our children often direct our path, and not the other way around. yes, it is exactly so. thank you for being here.

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  5. Indeed, I would say you're already writing your family history. Maybe you can repackage and edit the blog content in order to disseminate it more widely to the rest of your relatives. I know there are online services that can publish a blog in book form. (If you want to go that route!)

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    1. Steve, perhaps one day i will select some posts and put them together as a family record. but i can't write this blog thinking in those terms. the process is so organic. which is perhaps more authentic in the end. or maybe some of these posts will serve as a prompt for a book i might eventually write. i do have some ideas about how i would structure it, and i have a title, too! one day...

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  6. Oh my goodness. That last sentence is so deliciously haunting. I read that article and have been thinking about family stories, as well. Perhaps blogs will be a blessing for future generations. Why not? Family stories and histories certainly are.

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    1. Vesu, sometimes the fact that my children read here constrains me, but then i see later that it is always for the good. not that i never get petty here. sigh.

      i love that you come around.

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  7. You know I'm with your cousin. I wonder if your great grandmother Amanda would answer questions and solve family mysteries in your cousins dreams? I could sure use a dose of that. But maybe mine are solving mysteries in other ways. Today could be the day the Turners and Grahams show up.

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    1. Kristin, a novel thought! i should ask my cousin to ask great grandmother Amanda the questions I have! You know, I'm really going to do that. lol

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  8. Beautiful and evocative photo...
    You're right, you are already writing your family's history, and we who come and share are richer for it.
    love,
    yo

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    1. Yolie, thank you for coming here and sharing your sweet spirit. xo

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  9. I love love this photo.
    My mind is a bit scattered today, so I wish I could say more about it, but so it goes.
    xoxo

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    1. Rachel, i just love that you said hi. I know about minds too scattered to make words obey. xo

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