Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Trip (Way Way) Back

It started simply enough. I got an email from a name I vaguely recognized, informing me that a distant cousin, ninety-two years old, wanted me to know that she had just lost her husband: "Your Godmother wants you to know..." Godmother.? The ninety-two year old cousin was my Godmother? I remembered her from my youth, but I never knew...or remembered...that she was my Godmother!

This started the trail of emails and phone calls to the man who sent me the note, my Godmother's son, and then another to my Godmother herself, ever lucid, who informed me--when I asked who was my Godfather--that her now long-diseased brother was my Godfather (also a fact unknown or forgotten by me); which led me to my Godfather's daughter, who I had met once but had forgotten that, too, who, I discovered, lived a few miles away; and then I had to call my own brother and sister back East, to whom I HAD to chronicle all this.

This sibling contact led to more conversations and other discoveries: my grandmother's name on that maternal wing of the family, also my great-grandmother's and great-grandfather's names, the fact that one thread of the family line, a butcher, came to America (Maine) from Germany to avoid being arrested for murdering a man in a fight, the names of many of my second- and-third cousins, what they do for a living. etc. etc. etc. (All this matched with thoughts and talk of Turkey, the other and Muslim wing of the family...only recently discovered in the year 2000 on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Istanbul with my brother).

My head is still spinning.

My wife came home from the grocery store when the phone conversations had just ended; and when I told her some of the stories, it reminded her of some of the stories of her family. So we sat down, had lunch, and discussed all of the above...and how the genes may or may not have affected us, our life, and the lives of our children.

Blood is wonderful. It is the deepest and most powerful river of our existence. It ties us to ourselves, and the universe. I want to swim in it forever. It is both a warm and cold-blooded stream. It rushes through us and past us. I want to know it all; names. dates, faces and voices, all the fire and ice that affects the stream. The dead are not so dead. Nor are the living. They are just half-dead; missing. They are out there, though, waiting for an email, an event, a phone call, a re-discovery.

Family, blood, personal history: the rest is a faint reflection, a ripple in the pool, the hue and cries of illusion...mere chimera when faced with the most essential and comforting fact of blood.


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