Saturday, June 25, 2011

Forgive Me If I Slip Away

I came across this song this morning, listening to my YouTube playlist. It matched my mood perfectly.

I couldn't understand nor put my finger on the intense sadness I'd been feeling since I woke up at 4am. Nothing I did to chase it away was working. I searched through census, birth, marriage and death records trying to figure out who was who. Which record belonged to my ancestor? Why are there so many people with the same name? All I felt was confusion and hopelessness.

I had to stop fighting it. It was what it was. I was looking into pain-filled lives.

 I went with it, and here I am wondering about two people and how life MIGHT have been for them. As far as their story, all I know is what I've been told.

One is my dad's mother. My grandmother. I remember a woman sitting at a kitchen table, staring into the floor, right over my head. She was my grandfather's first wife, born in 1913. Or at least that was the year she was adopted into the family. My dad was a little boy when his parents divorced. Turns out she was a lesbian. There was a lot of pain and a lot of drinking. Emotions were out of control, I heard. She was out of control, I assume.

I think about her and I feel so sad. I just wish I could go back, wrap my little girl arms around her and let her cry if she needed to. I can't imagine how life was for her. Was she confused? Did she have even one friend who would listen? I didn't get to know her. But today I feel her pain.

The second person who sits with me today is my husband's uncle who I met on a visit to the family farm in New Hampshire years ago. He was so quiet. All I know is that he worked on the farm, never married, nor had any children. A few years after I met him he committed suicide. I was shocked. What sadness was he holding that he didn't share?

This morning I've concluded that these two people might be the hardest to get to know. Some people just don't want to talk about a person whose lifestyle or death is shameful to them.

But, they are just like me in so many ways. We are different in that I'm not ashamed of nor unwilling to be open about any part of my life. All of it is part of my story. All of my feelings, choices, talents, and weaknesses. I want to be known for the whole of my experience while here amongst the living.

So, no matter how uncomfortable people might be with the true story, I'll try to do it justice by telling it the way it was.

I hope with all of my heart that as they sit beside me while I uncover their stories we can laugh, and cry and heal.

1 comment:

  1. What a touching post, Betsy. It's amazing to me how some of our ancestors stay with us, touch us, and we want to know more. For me it happens so often with the ones who were troubled or who had extreme challenges come their way. I sometimes grieve for them.


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