Responsibility for family documents is a heavy burden. There is so much. So many receipts, records of transactions, legal documents that won't be denied a place in history. But what really matters?
I have been shifting living space for eight years to accommodate my Dad's paper trail. I've sorted through it countless times, trying to decipher what is necessary to keep. But why? He's dead. My mother is dead. His second wife is dead, as is her daughter and anyone who wants any of the documents that validated her life.
I have birth certificates, death certificates, hard evidence that these people lived and died. And I have the memories of my own connection with all of them that still are warm but also cold with recriminations and self-doubt.
I came across a letter I wrote when I was about twelve. My mother was in the hospital, and I was missing her.My dad wrote a note to my junior high explaining that I had to leave school early every day for two weeks (? I think it was that long) because I was needed at home. I had a brother who was just a toddler. I can't remember who cared for him while I was in school in the mornings, but it was my job to come home and help in the afternoons. I don't remember how I got home, either, because my school was a bus ride away. But I was happy to help.
I lived for a long time with someone who was beautiful, winsome, intelligent, persuasive, and mostly dysfunctional. Because I was her child and I loved her with the pure passion a child has for its mother, I wanted to be like her. I thought her moods should be my moods, her pain my pain.
I also lived in the world, where I could see that other people were not quite so volatile. My father was calm, but also darkly moody. However, he was rational. He was stable. And he knew how to navigate the world without obsession or despair. He lived a fairly ordered life in the midst of the chaos my mother created.
In 1957 I was fifteen. Eisenhower, a member of the Lost Generation, was President. He had recently agreed to defend Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan against invasion. Nixon, a member of the Greatest Generation, was his Vice President. The Civil Rights movement was just beginning. Newspaper headlines revealed there was a Mad Bomber on the loose and the Ku Klux Klan was making big trouble, We were in the midst of the Cold War with daily reminders of the nuclear bomb threat. We practiced drop drills. People were building bomb shelters. Elvis was on every radio, which was, no doubt, why the Everly Brothers couldn't get little Susie to wake up and Buddy Holly was distraught because Peggy Sue had to get married. There were four stage-one smog alerts that year, which meant it was dangerous to breathe.
It is that time of year when there are big changes coming. Some things are replanting themselves without much fanfare. Some are spectacular -- and they may be where you least expect to find them.
There is energy in every aspect of disintegration and rebirth. So much light reflected in this one seed about to be carried by the wind. We saw one of these artichoke seeds resting on the lawn before it took off on its journey. Tempted to place it where we wanted it to grow, we resisted. And yes, I mean we. There were three of us who could have gotten up from our chairs and placed this amazing tiny explosion anywhere in the garden that was more convenient for us.
But being too happy where we sat, we let it be. And then suddenly it was gone. Where?
The daily mull generally deals in questions which do not have final, simple, definitive answers.
This time is almost an exception.
Some time ago, I posted a little essay on Grabel's Law (you can find it here) :
"Two is not equal to three, even for very large values of two."
The law, as most of you who find your way to this post will already know, is fairly famous on the internet and even on T-shirts and mugs.
At the time I wrote about it, I had no idea who Grabel was, or what the law's origin was, and I could find no evidence of either.
I see that Ken has the daily mull up and running again, with a few improvements. One of those improvements is a picture of the blogger, next to their post.
This presents a couple of problems where I'm concerned—and I'm going to need a little help from my readers.
The problems I spoke of are:
I have mixed feelings about the second difficulty.
On one hand, I have a sort of theoretical agreement with the whole idea—the intention is definitely sound.
It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.
Publisher, Contributing Editor: Ken Watts
Editor, Contributing Editor: Virginia Watts
The Daily Mull is indebted to the following people, communities, and organizations.
A sincere thank-you to: