This afternoon, I fell into the past. My grandmother’s birthday sparked questions in my mind. Where, exactly, did her parents come from? I know my grandfather’s came from Sweden, but I didn’t know about her relatives. I asked my grandmother herself, but she was a little mixed up and so then I asked my mother. A few years back, she typed up some family history and gave us all copies, but I couldn’t locate mine.
Until today. My mom emailed me back which prompted me to go get the box labeled “Family Tree.” When my dad died in 1989, I gathered all his research into a single box. I’ve hardly looked at it since. But today, I sorted through and found immigration documents and baptism certificates and deeds to land and military discharge papers in addition to his handwritten notes about our ancestry. I found the information my mother gave me in the same box. (Occasionally, there is a method to my organizational madness.)
I found Ancestry.com and loaded the information I already have into a family tree. I’m still trying to pinpoint when certain ancestors came to this country–one ancestor was a native American, but the rest came from various parts of Europe, but in the early 1800s or maybe even earlier. I don’t know yet, but I hope to find out.
My husband came home with frozen pizzas tonight and suggested I go out for a walk in the early-evening sunshine and so I did. The happy daffodils are blooming everywhere. The trees are suddenly covered with fuzzy, pastel pink blossoms. I spotted some lilac embryos when I got close to the Puget Sound. I thought how temporary all this is–from the weather to the buds on the trees to the houses perched with their views of the Puget Sound. My relatives lived full lives, experienced heartache and triumph, lived through wars and death, weddings and holidays. My grandfather missed World War I because of a cataract on one eye. My other grandfather fought in World War II, though he never told us a thing about it. Their wives had babies, raised toddlers, fussed over schoolchildren, worried over teenagers, cried over their young adults, rejoiced over grandchildren.
I wonder about those women in those decades so long ago. Did they fret over their kitchen floors and yell at the children to wipe their muddy feet? Did they recognize their individual lives were like drops of water? Or did they see their lives as rolling waves of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see? All their worries are gone with them, evaporated. My worries seem momentary when I realize that spring will transform into summer and summer will fade into fall and then winter will creep into our bones again . . . and time rolls downhill faster and faster like a snowball gaining speed on the mountain.
And yet. The days have grown longer since Daylight Savings time started. Now, the children are still outside at 7:00 p.m. playing makeshift games of baseball in the front yard (today with a tennis ball and a stick). And while I’m thrilled to see my children playing childhood games with neighborhood children, I want the days to end sooner rather than later. The children have no concept of “dinner-time” and “night-time” and “time-to-go-home-time” while the sun still shines until 7:00 p.m. (And it will only get worse as summer approaches.)
Time flows, trickles, sometimes seems to go back uphill until suddenly, it rushes so fast it knocks you off your feet. All you can do is swim with the current and enjoy the view as you float past.