Got a call from my mom yesterday. I’d just sent her some printed out e-mail messages from her brother. I’d asked him to tell me some stories from their time growing up in Erie, Pa. and about his family and his mom’s family. I’m beginning to worry about losing the lore from the past, and my dad has always drilled his family story into my skull so it took a while to remember that that could only be half of my own history. My uncle Tom’s tales are fascinating and remarkably well written (that was part of what my mom was calling to comment on – she noted how “easily read” his letters were and noticed, perhaps for the first time, what a good writer he is).
It’s been 25 years since I lost my three living grandparents all in the same year, before I’d even turned 10. That loss has taken all this time to sink in completely and is now expressing itself as a fear of losing the past. My father just buried another one of his brothers, his favorite, and I worry that the songs and stories, jokes and riddles, puns and quibbles of my past are fading, irretrievably. That’s why I’m glad I asked Tom to set down some of his thoughts and memories. My mom was glad too. There’s stuff in there she’d never heard before.