Cause and effect. Because I made poor relationship choices, it effected my daughters school report. Almost two years after the “fire” we are still feeling the heat of the repercussions.
When I say I had to let my life “burn”, I mean straight down to the foundation. My 11 year old ask me for pictures documenting the generations on my side of the family. I had nothing, just a weak smile. “Remember that fire a couple of years ago?” I looked into her eyes for acknowledgment. What I saw was disappointment.
I couldn’t be upset at the melodramatics because she had a point. She had such a good point I felt it was my obligation to hunt down some photographic history for her. Where to begin? Who would have anything? Anna is just about as rock bottom as I am. So I turned to the least likely source, Dani. She is the one sister I am still getting to know better as an adult.
I am enjoying getting to know her, probably for the first time. The last characteristic I can really remember about her was her less than nurturing attitudes. She never struck me as particularly nostalgic or even romanticized being pregnant past taking the test. Yet, of the four of us, she is the one with the cache of pictures and memorabilia (including grandma’s furniture) from growing up. Crazy.
Before my six year stent of being MIA I was the one who hosted holiday dinners, hung the family pictures, and was a general hub of family ties. My home was a veritable trip down memory lane. Pick a wall, any wall. While I don’t miss the lifestyle, I do miss the familiar faces. Earlier than I was likely aware of, my abuser decided I didn’t need the reminder of my family of origin. If I was to cut ties it was to be permanently. He took it upon himself to help me out with that by freeing me of any physical reminders that I had any history at all. As far as I was concerned I may as well have been born of a pee-tree dish. Was I supposed to now tell my daughter that she had sprung from a lab? Awesome.
I put the word out and hoped for the best. Less than 24hr before the report is due and my phone started chirping and tweeting worse than an aviary full of parakeets. To my delight pictures that I had NEVER owned started popping up on my conversation thread. Pictures of my mother I had never seen. Pictures of my brother and i from when we were young enough to beat up on Anna. Seeing that little face of hers reminded me of the days when she tattled about everything. Town crier was her nic name. Blazer and I HATED her. The images sparked stories I had long forgotten but were now rolling off my tongue like they just happened earlier that day. Kait, Holly, and 3yr old Alver were enraptured with a night of story telling. Excited demands of “I want to see! I want to see!”, “This is grandpa?”, “Oh my gosh mom! You look the SAME!!!”, and “Look at grandma in her Navy uniform…WoW!” jammed up against bedtime.
I have always been fantastic at collecting pictures but terrible about taking them. For the first time in my life I get it. I have always hated having my picture taken. Most of the time I feel geeky and awkward, a bit like a dodo bird. But, I can’t believe how thrilled I am to see pictures of my mother and grandmother at different times in their lives. What stunning and beautiful women they are. So much of the different aspects of their personalities captured to ruminate over generation to generation.
I have decided to take as many pictures as it takes to get over my “camera shy” attitude. I don’t know what the future holds for my children. There are five of them. I figure, if I take enough pictures of my family and just get them out there to as many of us as we can, I have increased our sources of retrieval. In the event that one of my kids or grandchildren literally have their house burn down with all of their nostalgic and historical belongings, somebody will have enough history in a shoe box to help them rebuild or write a report.
Thank you Dani.