Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

curiosity is born

 I find myself feeling pensive this morning. It happens every now and again after doing some work on the family tree. That is especially so when old photographs are involved. It occurs to me that memories become curiosities. That is why I feel a certain sadness. I know that will happen to mine as well. One day my memories will be nothing more than a curiosity to someone else. Questions asked with no one to provide the answers. History becomes speculation. It is one of the reasons I write. I hope to provide some answers, long after my passing. It is a comforting thought to me that I may yet be heard. There will be no debate, just a reading of my thoughts. The validity of my conclusions may very well be questioned, mocked even, but they can not be repudiated. That is a comfort as well.
 This latest bout was brought upon by a few old pictures my Mom sent me. In these photos are my cousins. These cousins did not live close to me, in fact they lived in a distant state, Illinois. As a kid that seemed like another world entirely. They did come to visit in 1963, when I was ten. I don't remember that but do remember their Dad being there. He was remembered for an incident. At that time he was having weight issues. He had sat in a chair at my house and due to his size it was a very tight fit. Being a kid I couldn't help but laugh when the arm broke off that chair. It was a family story repeated year after year. I don't recall his three daughters being there at all. The pictures prove otherwise as I am there with them. We are all sitting on an overturned rowboat, smiling that uncomfortable smile of having your picture taken. I looked at that photo and remembered the rowboat, but not my cousins. Strange the things we remember sometimes.
 I did see two of these cousins again about nine years later. I was graduating from Navy boot camp and they lived in Chicago. Chicago is not far from the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility. Joyce and Julie came to pick me up outside the main gate. I went to their home for a visit. I don't recall much about it but it must have been raining. I remember showing them how the Navy had taught me to fold my raincoat. Aunt June cooked a meal. There was an older sister Joann but I don't believe she was home at the time. Looking at the picture that Mom had sent me I realized that 1963 was the last time I saw Joann and now I learned she has passed away. Joyce and Julie I last saw in 1971. Thanks to Ancestry.com and Facebook I have just reconnected with them. Perhaps one day the chance to " meet " them again will present itself.
 I love getting the old photographs and learning the stories behind them. The old saying a picture is worth a thousand words is true. The problem is without someone to tell that story, the picture is silent. The thousand words are all speculation. When the story is lost, curiosity is born. At least that is my thinking and my hope. I hope someone takes an interest in those pictures and my stories. They have no monetary value whatsoever but are invaluable to me. Prized possessions. Those pictures represent my past, a past I don't even know myself, and the stories add context. I don't believe it is an epic tale to be told, a tremendous screenplay to entertain the masses, but it is as close to the truth as I can manage. I want the story known.
 I think that may be what this this search is all about. My curiosity to know about my ancestors and contemporaries. I want to know everyone. Tomorrow is promised to no one. We can be gone in the blink of an eye. There are times when I feel a sense of urgency. The older I get the more that feeling persists. I do become impatient at times. I find myself guarding against feelings of being overwhelmed. A strange sense of responsibility permeates my consciousness at times. It is almost as though this is what I was put here to do. But why should I feel this need to chronicle the family history ? Maybe it is just because as a child so little was known by me. The ancestors, and those cousins and relatives living next door, where not the topic of conversation in my house. For reasons I can not explain that is the truth of it. They were, for the most part, curiosities. Isn't that strange ?
 The uncertainty of death surely plays a role in all of this. I have my faith to reassure me. I am just a man after all and doubts creep in. Will I be remembered ? That is what I believe we all ask ourselves in the dark of night. All the things that are important to me I want to see continued. My memories are important. It is impossible to think that they are only of importance to me. That would be placing the value far too low. The value lies in the story, not the object. Pictures and artifacts are just curiosities without the story. One day this " artifact " (myself) will be gone. I just don't want to wind up a curiosity. I want the story to remain. And if you want something done, the best way is to do it yourself.