My mom is spending the weekend with me. I am enjoying my time with her and I think she is having a good time as well. We spent last night talking about her childhood and my own childhood. Family members we’ve lost and those memories of them that we still cherish. We laughed and laughed. My only regret is that we didn’t have these types of conversations years ago. I regret not having these conversations with my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who aren’t here any more and whose memories are lost to us. As you grow older your priorities change, as does your perspective. What seemed unimportant ten years ago, is now a quest. But I still have my mom and some other older relatives around that maybe will allow me to pick their brains. Ancestry.com is a useful, interesting tool. But for now I try to talk to my mom and jiggle her memory and see what happens. I have so many questions, and there really isn’t anyone left with the first hand knowledge I seek.
The picture above I posted to Facebook last night. It began a conversation with my cousins on Facebook. Everyone was happy to see the pictures. We are fortunate that the picture isn’t so old that we didn’t know who the faces were. The good news is that we know these people. They are our connection to the older bearded man. A great grandfather that we never met. Someone we have only heard stories about. One day we will be like my great grandfather in this picture. Our children’s children children will look at pictures of us and wonder what our story is. It is important to me to discover as many of these links as I can to the past.
But my own story is important too. I have no children of my own. But my mom talks about her memories of her aunts and uncles. Last night we talked a bit about an aunt I had never heard of. All of our stories are important. All our memories need to be recorded and shared.
My grandfather passed away in 1976. I was 14 years old. it was my first experience of death of someone important to me. We spent Spring break that year with my grandparents. One of my last memories of my grandfather is him walking down the hallway of their house. He was wearing overalls, he always wore overalls. No shirt, one strap of his overalls was hanging, and he had a hand rolled cigarette in his hand. And he was singing. He was singing a song I had never heard and I’ve never heard since.
I don’t know who he heard sing it originally. His mother, his father? Maybe Bing Crosby. After looking at Youtube, I’ve found that it was done by various artist over the years. This memory has been with me for a long time, yet today was the first day that I searched for a recording of it. The verse has been stuck in my head all this time. When I typed it into Youtube, this is what I found. “Red Sails in the Sunset”
My Favorite rendition is by Fats Domino.