As I was standing guard at the House Right triple doors at theater tonight, I overheard two of my fellow ushers discussing some rings they were wearing. They were talking about how it was their mother's or grandmother's, or sisters, or.....well, you get the idea. Suffice it to say these ladies are not spring chickens. It's no secret that ushering is one of the things local retirees love to do. Get my point? The jewelry was old, and passed down from family....a legacy if you will.
Their conversation got me thinking about how I tend to hold onto things. I'm not a hoarder, but I have a hard time of letting go of things. Much of what you find in my possession carries a memory of some sort, and I want to hang onto it for as long as I can. Part of me is afraid that if I no longer have this token of the memory, that the memory will be gone as well. Before I was born, both my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather were gone. I never got to meet them. Never got to make memories with them.
Is it possible to miss someone you never met? For me, the answer is yes. I want to be able to close my eyes and remember what they looked like when they smiled at me. I want to be able to remember stories they told me or games we played. Instead I have a handful of vague stories, a few photos, and the knowledge that they died from illness. It seems that nothing was passed from my grandmother to my mother. The same is true about things passed from my grandfather to my father. I wish there was something I could pick up and touch. I long to feel close to them. To ask them questions. To hear their voices.
I've had a passion about tracing my family history for as long as I can remember. I try to get my great-aunt to tell me as many stories as I can squeeze out of her. I have some of her things from when she lived in the apartment. Things she didn't want to take to the retirement home with her. I know after she's gone I can take these things out and feel close to her again. I drink in the knowledge she has about my family. Sometimes I feel like because I missed out on knowing my grandmother, I'm missing that link to where I came from. That's why I pour over as much of ancestry.com as I can (even though I can't justify spending money on a membership quite yet).
There is far less information from my father's side of the family. Our family history is muddy and hard to trace. Still, I wish there was something I could do to figure out how to bridge the gap from where I came from to who I am.
Two grandparents. Two missing pieces of a puzzle that tugs at my heart. I want my future children and grandchildren to have pieces of me left to hang onto. Something to show them who I am and maybe give them insight into where they came from. Maybe they'll see that I liked pink just like they did. Maybe that crocheted afghan I made still smells a little like me, and for a moment they can imagine that they're curled on my lap listening to me tell stories.
While I sometimes joke that I wish I had a rich uncle to leave me a fortune, the fortune I really want is something that money can never buy. Memories, tokens of a time long gone, pieces of a legacy of which I am just one part.