12.27.2008

Sticking, stuck.

Today we tackled Dad's side of the family. College acceptances and annual cruises and "where are you off to next?" and "how are you feeling these days?" It's strange to see these gene-pool partners once a year and know so little of their daily interactions.

I've been missing my Nanas lately. I think it's the holidays, though it struck me about 2 months ago when I was crossing 3rd Avenue one night after work. "What was the depression like and did you know you were entering one?" I whisper it silently in my head and wonder what the Nanas would have responded. I miss having older ones in our regular visitation circuit.

So today I whipped out the questions for Pop-pop. Did he ever learn Pennsylvania Dutch and what was his career like as a milkman and then at the bank and where did his parents meet? The time is so precious; I am more aware of annual opportunities to grasp at heritage information than ever before. In the car afterwards, I think about coming down to visit again soon, alone, with a video camera. I am less self-conscious of appearing curious when I am alone.

Now Steve and Dad are at the bar and Mom and Kate are at the gym and I'm alone in the hotel room, reading and writing. One day my grandkids will ask me about how my parents met and what it was like to live through the Iraq war and how many times I fell in love before I met my husband. I have a feeling it will be much like this, like wanting to recreate everything that's come before and predict everything that's coming ahead, all in an effort to place oneself on the map.

In the meantime, I try to hold onto what I can remember, hopeful that some of it will stick.

2 comments:

Erica said...

I totally get it.

I videotape my grandmother whenever I can. I ask her questions about her childhood (like ... she was born in 1913! Her dad died in 1918 from the influenza epidemic while on business in VA! she didn't have electricity on the farm until her sophomore year of high school!).

The more interesting questions are the ones I struggle with more often - life, education, job, love, happiness.

I think you should head back down and record your family memories ...

Emilie said...

I feel compelled to comment to say that it felt like I was reading my own thoughts while reading you.

My paternal grandparents both died this year, my grandfather in January and my grandmother last month. My other grandparents died about fifteen years ago. And of course, it's only now that they're gone that I realize that the knowledge and the memories they had are kind of gone with them, and I wish I'd asked more questions about where I come from. I suppose it also has to do with being in your mid-twenties and starting to wonder whether where you're at is where you thought you'd be and all that...

So, the historian in me cannot resist seconding Erica's words in telling you to keep on being curious and asking those questions!

Hope you're enjoying those winter holidays!