zird is the word (lizardek) wrote,
zird is the word
lizardek

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NOT FALLING FAR FROM THE TREE

You've all heard those stories a dozen times. You roll your eyes when your uncles slap their knees and explode into laughter before regaling their audience with yet another rendition of "remember when." You can recite the anecdotes word for word, the ones they tell over and over, your parents, your grandparents, your cousins; that shared history which is rubbed into your skin and twined about your neck.

At least you think you can. When you stop and think, how much is left? How much will you remember? How much gets passed on to enrich the understanding your children and their children and THEIR children have of what made you whole, what happened, the story behind that calligraphied name on the inked-in tree. Born. Married. Died. A series of numbers, names, descending lines. Branches out and out into oblivion, a tangle of once removed, twice removed, second, third relationships that spiral out so far from the core that considering them family is more a courtesy than anything else. If you don't write them down, pretty soon they are but airy nothings, a misty breath upon the wind.

You've seen the photographs, those stiff and faded folk in their black and formal clothing. They say nothing of the lives behind those formal faces, the strength in those farmer arms, the warmth in that mother's embrace. Turn one over: you're lucky to find a name, a date. Will you wind up in that anonymous bin? Antique ancestors with no connection, no home.

You've got your father's eyes. And he had his father's, who had his mother's, who had hers. Did you know you have the eyes of a woman who lived a century ago? Would you recognize yourself in her if she walked by today?

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.* If we don't know where we started, how can we say where we will end? We careen off into a void without connections, without family, without history. Do you save their letters? Do you even get letters anymore? History flushed by the delete button. All those stories are fading whispers.

Memory is such a fragile thing and history unravels faster than you can blink. Grab hold with both hands and hold fast. Take your stories and your parent's stories and their parents', and make them yours. Put your lips to them and breathe, blow gently until they fill with life. Hand them like balloons to your children, but tie them down with words.

***

I miss ozswede and therealshedork and bluepoppy.

Ja, Må De Leva! Warm and Wonderful Birthday Wishes to Chuck and to alcesalces!

*Anthony Brandt
Tags: puttingwordstogether, thewaywewere
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