Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What is your story....?

In April of this year, my Aunt Esther died and I was able to return then to say good-bye. When I went back to Vermont the first of August, my mom thought it was important to have something from the house where my Aunt Esther was living and the same house where my mom grew up. A tangible memory of sorts of not only my Aunt Esther, but as a child, where I spent a considerable amount of time. Originally I didn't feel I needed anything. I thought that my memories were enough. However, when I picked up the rectangle mirror that is ornately framed, I thought differently. On the very bottom is an old photograph of the door leading into the house on 26 Pleasant Street. It will be placed in the home I currently reside and any future homes that I create to symbolize our collective history. An image that contains a story beyond measure. A history that my mother shared with her four sisters long before I was born; a history of my grandmother sitting in the parlor reading and drinking her tea before going up to bed; and of my grandfather, who was a man I never met, but learned about his life through the stories my mother told; and finally, the history of my Aunt Esther, who will be remembered not only for the special bond she had with each of her nieces and nephews, but more than that, we all knew that we were loved and cared for. This priceless memento will be one small spark to remember my larger personal story.
As happens in life, we grow older and the memories grow older as well. The distance that separates us as family only seems to bring us together when we are saying good-bye. In our moments of disconnect, we are connected, and when we leave, we do so with trepidation, wondering if the next time we meet will be in life or in death.

Long ago, on my visits to 26 Pleasant Street, Auntie E would be waiting for us on the front porch, a space that she dearly loved. Then, one by one, she would take us in her arms for that warm embrace; and before sending us to the backyard to play; she would pinch our cheeks really, really hard and tell us how much she loved us. I hated this so and yet, with regret, I find myself wanting to turn the pages of my life back.

Today, we find ourselves hugging each other tighter; stronger than before, no longer running to the backyard to play, instead, staying behind and lingering in the embrace of the all too familiar.

My sisters, brothers, cousins and I, we have our own lives now, following a path designed for each of us, yet, no matter how different we have become, the ties that bind us together is one of family, and this is what connects us in this life.

I wonder if my Auntie E somehow knew that getting us together would mean that she wouldn’t be there; that a reason for the gathering meant that we would be celebrating this life without her: a story to remember and the gifts she gave each of us in turn…..

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