Thursday, May 1, 2008

A life unknown until now

My mom and I sat at the kitchen table and, with a fine tooth comb, went thru each and every page of Mrs. H's photo book. Her life, or a large part of it, was hand-collaged with scotch tape in all directions, on each and every page. A life that included at least 30 letters from her daughter, Cheryl. A life that produced a husband (who became an ex), two children, Cheryl and Ronnie, and a bounty of other relatives. A life, that, at the point of her death, and the estate sale that followed, no one was there to pick up and carry on with. No one would be repeating the story of the time Ronnie dressed in that funny straw hat and strummed on that big guitar, maybe pretending to be Elvis. No one would be sharing the memories of the time they all traveled to meet at Rocky Motel and spent that crazy night in that wild town.
To some, it may sound like a sad tale, but I don't see it that way. Or, at least, I never had before. My mom and I, my sister and I, my mom, sister, and whatever other members of my family happen to be nearby--have done this before. We've bought an album, a shoebox, a ziplock baggie filled with photos, letters, divorce papers, birth records, and numerous other documents of someones life and bit by bit, pieced it all together. We pour over the photos, we read the letters out loud to one another, we search the documents for clues. Without knowing one of these souls, after hours and sometimes days of this digging, calling in friends and strangers alike to comment on our findings, we can tell you who's who, who married who, who divorced who, where they went, what they did, how they lived.... it's a bit of an art, really. It's years of practice that has brought us here. A keen sense of observation, a dire curiosity of others, and the ability to fill out a person's story with very little detail known. We love this.

This time, though, it got me thinking. About Mrs. H., Cheryl and Ronnie and how there was no one left to pick up the pieces. In fact, this time, it almost made me sad.


a thank you to: all photos borrowed from one of my very favorite sites.

6 comments:

my love for you. said...

that is sad...but alas life.

Christina said...

my god that picture up top is amazing. i would like that couch. and i just love that you and your family do this.. me i would just get all sad.

donny laundry said...

the top picture... do the drapes have dust covers on them?

donny said...

thank heavens the ladies of the past covered that outasight furniture in plastic, so that it can still be in such great condition. it's like they were storing it so we could enjoy it now.

comfies said...

seriously! i think the drapes have dust covers on them! and such cool drapes, too. this is such a beautifully written post, moll. xoxoxoxo.

Modern Craft said...

I love that you are so curious about them-- it honors their life in a way, don't you think? Maybe no one they expected was there to pick up the pieces, but you did, in a manner of speaking. They certainly couldn't have seen you coming, but how great that someone is interested in the life they lived. This is why I only read biographies these days-- I have a similar love for lives lived.