Friday, April 26, 2013

Shut up!

Me and Mom; 1951
“Shut up, shut up, shut up...”

Aunt Sayde sat with her right leg over her left, right elbow on top of right knee, right hand holding a filterless Pall Mall cigarette. Her left hand held the glass of vodka or gin, I don’t remember which.

“You used to rock yourself to sleep in your crib; heee!”.

I don’t remember that either. That was nearly sixty years ago. There must have been a lot of noise in the household when I was an infant. Aunt Sayde was trying to tell me something without actually telling me. Elders are good at that game.

That’s the challenge with oral history; deciphering what your elders are trying to tell you or not trying to tell you. Often, those seemingly charming stories are coded with all kinds of messages.
I must have heard and repeated the phrase “Shut Up” from someone. My mother, my father, my siblings, my Aunt Sayde? Was I the center of the argument? Afterall, I came about nearly 12 years after my brother who was the next youngest.

However, before you can tell your family history, you should examine your own story. You are at the center of your story, up close and personal. You are the source and you know your truth. Whether you choose to tell the truth is another matter. However, your truth is what’s going to get you closer to the story of your ancestors. Your truth is the fertile foundation that your family tree needs. Trust in it.

My earliest memory is of a dream of flight.

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