Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Family Pictures and Stories

When I was a little girl, my paternal grandfather, Papa Clyde would allow me to look through his family book, a most prized possession his Aunt Daisy had written, assembled, and illustrated. In it were family pictures, records of births, deaths, and marriages, and family stories.

I've read that book cover to cover. I would look into the pictures searching for familiar family traits in them. At the time, I didn't always see it. Now when I look I see my father when I look at the image of his great great grandfather. When I look at my Aunt Daisy's childhood photo, I see a little of myself, but not too much for I am my mother's daughter and my features are more like hers.

A page from the family album
What a treasure this book has been to me. The original book is stored away at my uncle's house, but I convinced him years ago to let me borrow it. I scanned all the pages and returned it to him. A treasure like that is so priceless, I was terrified my daughter might find it, and if you know her, you know she is accident prone. That child, woman now, has broken more things than anyone I know. Perhaps she is misfortunate, but I try not to let her near anything with sentimental value.

I was in a writer's craft lecture yesterday and the author, Cary Holladay talked about a family diary she had come across. I immediately thought of my own family's and then I realized that all those years ago while perusing those pages and reading the history influenced me more than I knew.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to learn to read because I watched my grandmother's face transform as she read. I saw the tears she brushed away and heard her giggle and often laugh at loud at something she had read. I pestered her and she taught me. My mother didn't realize I could read until one day I picked up the TV guide and told her what was coming on television that night. Watching my grandmother was the birth of a dream, a little girl who wanted to write books in order to make people cry and laugh out loud.

But it was my Aunt Daisy's family history book that further infused this dream. When I introduced myself to the class on the first day, I told them my name, about my children, but most importantly that now with my children grown, I have the opportunity to bring that little girl's dream true.

We won't be having Sunday dinner today since I will be at lectures and workshops with the Converse College low residency MFA. Check back next week. We'll be celebrating a couple of birthdays and anniversaries - a little late, but I'm sure my family understands.

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