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.