Sunday, November 25, 2007


I had dinner with my neice last night. We drove out the their farm of filberts and marion berries along the Willamette River. Two neices and their mother, and their families. To describe my family as fractured is accurate, and these girls were raised on the far side of one of the deepest breaks. A crevasse.

At some point, when her daughters (one my neice by blood) were about two and five, she took them away from us and never came back. The girls are now 40 and 43, and to be face to face with her is like looking in a rearview mirror. I see myself, my brother, my grandmother, perfected by the union of my brother and a beautiful but crazy girl some forty years ago.

They came to my mother's funeral some seven years ago, and even then, it was stunning to see her. She has become a good woman. She knows some of the tragedy of her young life, but wonders at her lifelong fear of poverty and places that are not clean, and I will not be the one to describe her childhood to her. She told me she used to make up stories about her family because she didn't have one.

I cried. I don't know what to tell her.

I'm not sure why we didn't see her again. I'm not sure why we didn't keep in touch with them. To protect her? But when she said, "There probably aren't any pictures, are there?" I had to laugh. Oh yes. We have pictures. Pictures we have. So today, I dug out pictures of her grandmother, and her grandfather, and her greats and great greats, and her father as a baby and her aunts and uncles and I will write her a family tree and make her a scrapbook, because I know how and because, fracture or no, we are family.


asha said...

That is a true gift. I wish I'd do something like that for my son. He's been asking. Please kick me in the ass, willya?

someone said...