Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hand in hand. A Guided Tour.

My mother came to visit this week, and she brought an old photo album of her family, ancestors to serve as a pictorial diagram of all that Nate has uncovered in his lineal research obsessions. Now, as a kid, my grubby hands have flipped, ripped and pointed though all of these ancient pages with ancient glue and ancient faces looking back at me.
I only knew who I knew. My grandmother, mother, aunt and grandfather. I remember as a young one, having a hard time believing that my parents weren't smaller carbon copies of who they were now (or rather, then). I literally remember thing that my father had a mustache as a baby. Now, that's funny. 

After hearing, reading and seeing all the history unfolding on Nate's laptop, it's especially powerful to pick up the delicate images, cradle the torn paper in my steady palm and see my family, what they did and how they did it, for the camera at least. It was as best I could do so many years ahead, to hold their face in my hand and gaze.  So, as we sat down and got my mother's orientation on the pages, the people and the locations, I proverbially took my hubby's hand and walked with him. He knew of these people, and now they had a face. We explored the expressions and the poses and the Hungarian scrawl on the back of some pictures. It is as if my mother and I were puzzle pieces, and the album was a key. Nate could float above my mom and I and look back at the steps we both took through 71 years of living in the shadows of the figures on the pages. It's very magical to share a portion of our newly combined life that we weren't actually present for. 

The back side of a photo of my Great-Grandfather. This is in Hungarian. It's a note to someone. Not me, but I get to peek, even though I cannot understand it, I see the personal arches, dotted letters and message for him, or from him.

My huge hope for the near future, is that I can take him to Hudson. NY, where my mother grew up. I spent multiple summers with my Aunt in Columbia County, tramped around auction houses, mountain mansions and orchards. I heard stories of years past. It was all my aunt had at that point in her life. I feel like I can show him where I start, way before I was here on Earth. I can show him the houses in which they lived, the towns they roamed and of course now, their final resting place. 

The funniest thing about looking the past in the eye as we did, is that you can see other people in there. My mom looks like her mom, who looks like her dad. My Aunt looked like her father, who didn't look like his brother, but resembled his cousin. It's all so binding, and a very nice journey to a time and a place that we will not see, we will not smell nor will we hear. It's all we have at this time in our lives, but it keeps us going. "Us" as in the family. All of us. The lot. 

My mother thought the girl on the right was her mother. Ship records show that is her sister with their mother. The picture is stamped for passage.
One of these boys is my Great-Grandfather in Hungary. This would have been taken before 1900. (probably ca. 1880)
Our living room will soon enough be a museum and a home for them all. We'll scan, enhance, frame and hang them up for a daily reunion of our hearts and our souls. 

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