Friday, February 26, 2010

And here's the view from my porch now

I actually enjoy snow, but it was a little hard to adjust to, having just returned from warm and sunny San Diego. I have two uncles living there, my mother's older and younger brother. My mom passed away several years ago and I like to keep in touch with the family that remains. My uncles are 92 and 86, but you would assume that each is ten years younger if you met them.

I had brought some old family pictures with me--pictures of my grandparents when they were courting and of my mother and uncles when they were children. I wanted to ask my uncles to give me more information about who was in some of the pictures and where they were taken. That led to their getting out even more old photos, as well as diaries and other memorabilia. What followed was a story fest, as my uncles relived their childhoods growing up in a small mountain town in Virginia in the 1920s and 1930s. Afterward I realized that something magical had happened. I had heard so many stories that a hologram of the town had formed in my head. I could stand at the end of the swinging bridge that led to the school and watch as boys (being boys) tried to swing the bridge and scare the girls. I could look up and see Uncle Jack as a small boy playing on the flat roof next to the apartment he lived in while the family's new house was being built. I could look up the steep street in front of that house and see my Uncle Harrell coming down on a sled, with his friends keeping watch at the intersections.

Both of my uncles live very much in the present, but for at least a little while, the past became alive and touchable.  I thank them for that gift.