I have become extremely nostalgic lately. With the passing of another generational icon yesterday (the incomparable Gene Wilder - actor/comedian/writer), I can recall a conversation David and I started having just last week. “We are in for some sad times ahead.” I remembered saying, and he concurred.
As each year passes, we are reminded of just how short life is. Family gatherings were a time of celebration and happiness, and now—some of them are not. We are brought together to bear the burden of loss, of heartache. We look to the faces still present, thankful for each and every one. Blessed by each and every memory we can summon.
The fabric of our family is embroidered with treasured memories that sustain me to this day.
Although I grew up with just one sister, my many cousins lived in the same town, or close by, and we spent holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations together.
I remember cramming in next to my cousins on my grandmother’s couch on Christmas Eve, each of us donning our Sunday best and nibbling on treats as the adults carried on in various parts of the house. Near Halloween, my sister and I would shuffle through the woods as we watched our cousins try to scare the life out of us during their annual ghost walk. 4th of Julys, BBQs, Barbie doll birthday cakes, making whirlpools in the pool, wearing winter coats at the ice rink in July, pizza parties and scary movies, older cousins in charge of the younger ones, bible camp, drive-in theaters. There is an endless supply and each one can be played back in my mind with such vivid detail.
Photo albums are crammed with even more memories. Some black and white. Some yellow and faded. I compare chins, noses, hair color, and our crazy clothes. We share blood, a wise-ass sense of humor, the will to keep going, doing, being, inventing, creating. Forging through life no matter what it throws our way. We’re a sturdy stock, regardless of how each of us may feel about that particular moniker.
My father just recently gave me a very large box. Our lineage has been researched and documented and I am its new keeper and guardian. My heart lurches every time I see our name emblazoned on another record or piece of paper.
I have great plans to hang these framed artifacts alongside family photos. I will do this to honor the past and be mindful of the present. To share our family history with whomever wishes to stop and take the time to read bold script written on aged parchment, or gaze upon the many faces of loved ones who are no longer with us, and of those who still are.
This collection will grow and be nurtured by my own children in the future, and I will gladly share these with other family members who wish to take this particular journey back in history with their own families.
The past has a way of pulling us into the future. To allow us to chart our own course. To embrace where we came from and decide where we can go. To be at peace. We need to hold onto those memories with as much clarity and tenderness and love we can possible piece together, if only for the briefest of moments. We need to share these memories to keep them alive, and nurture them to keep these memories from leaving us.
P.S. I'm the tall dorky looking one in the matching dress.