Sunday, July 29, 2007

My descent into the whirlpool of grief continues but not without glimpses of the gentle moonlight of my aunt's life before her passage into the after-place.

I flew out of Tri-Cities Airport at 6 AM Saturday morning, arrived in Tallahassee at 10:30, met my daughters and grandson and then drove up to Alabama for the funeral. If you will recall from my previous blog entry, my Aunt Margaret's house was firmly stuck in the1950's; I had written about it some time ago and my cousin asked that I read the poem I had written and make a commentary at the funeral service. Since I thrive on spontaneity, I was happy to comply, but when I stood on the platform and saw all those sad faces, all I could remember was Aunt Margaret's laughter. I read the poem but then I commented on her laugh as one I had tried to emulate, copying it until I nearly had it but it was never mine - it belonged only to her. Her laugh was musical and had a lilting kick at the end that I adored. After that, her charm and the unique laugh she possesed dominated the proceedings as others added their memories to our bank.

I returned to Tennessee today, arriving at 10:30 Am, exausted but glad to be 'home.' My luggage continued on without me: somehow I passed through three ID points without anyone, including me, detecting that I was traveling under the name of Loiss Kelley to Harrisburg . . .why on earth I checked the bag is anybody's guess - disorientation, exaustion, brain fog. I'll miss the simple things I had packed in there. As for Loiss Kelley, who knows? I got my proper identity back in Charlotte, but it was too late to snatch the bag.

So, why did I share this other than simply wanting to tell you my story? I was reading Shank's Shaping Memory chapter; as I read, I found myself thinking about all the things that happened this weekend that will be pivotol in what I choose to remember for the future. Which elements will I retain as I tell the stories and which parts will I simply drop? I suspect I'll let the luggage thing pass now that I've shared it with you, but no, I've got to keep trying to get somebody to help me retrieve it from lost/misplaced baggage heaven which means I'll have to tell it over and over . . .

After the funeral, our family returned to Aunt Margaret's house and many of the relatives wanted to talk about the 'front room.' It seems I wasn't the only one who noticed it. I listened to all those stories and realized that we really do pick up pieces of things and add them to our inventory of memories. That room grew to impressive proportions yesterday as the story was told over and over again and new bits and pieces were added to it. Since the story was already on active file in my 'Memory Organization Package,' retrieval was simple. The retelling polished it and new details were added to enrich the memory for the next time. That the core of the story also exists in written form lessened the feeling that it was just a dream; sitting in Aunt Margaret's front room one more time imprinted it for life.

1 comment:

Barnabus said...

It is good to see that you are back. Your sharing of the trip stories are reinvigorating for those of us who will be heading home to our families and friends.

I will be swinging through my home town and the plan is to gather with mysiblings and mom, and a few friends from many years ago. I will be listening to their stories. Then home to my wife to restart our story.

Regarding the lost baggage it shows that there are challenges to be meet while on any journey.