Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bittersweet Memorial

Inside of bible signed by Mr Richard Price Jr, Wales Utah, April 16, 1900

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting with an elderly aunt. She is my mothers last surviving sibling. I loved seeing her. I enjoyed the stories she told...the memories she evoked...but after I returned home I was filled with angst...

...over the loss of my sweet mother, who left this mortal sphere when I was just 17. Over the loss of feeling connected...of belonging.

Over the loss of part of my story.

After my visit with my lovely aunt, my cousin drove me to the next town, and unlocked the door of my ancestral home so I could wander through.

Full of bittersweet memories...each room held haunting echoes from the past.

Decaying and forlorn, the old brick house was once stately, and even grand for this small township. The first house in town to have an indoor bathroom.

This was the place where my mother grew up. The place where her family loved her. The walls in which she was nurtured into the tender-hearted, generous, and loving woman I knew. My sweet mother who sang like a song bird.

This was the much anticipated summer destination of my childhood, when every two years my family would load up the panel van and traverse the unpaved Al-Can highway. From Alaska, through Canada, and then on to Wales, Utah. Over 3,000 long miles.

I loved those summers at this house...the place my mother called home..

It was our last trip that claimed my mothers life...and forever changed our story.

This place..this link to my heritage..a reliquary for treasured memories...a container...full of stories that now felt fractured and lost...a broken shell that had once held life.

A bittersweet memorial of a time now gone.

Aged relics were scattered amongst the jumble of crumbling debris and storage boxes that have been deposited over the years. A large tattered bible caught my eye, and I asked if it had belonged to an ancestor. She was sure it was something just picked up along the way...but when the cover was lifted there was a signature...a trace of our collective story. Our great-grandfather had signed this book on April 16, 1900.

My heart ached. I could feel the stories waiting under the surface of this neglected house that had once been a home...but we were hurried and needed to get on our way. I felt distracted... ...rushed...I longed for time...for I could listen. But I could not hear. Whatever the walls wanted to whisper to me remains unspoken.


Jiles The Great said...

How haunting and sad--I hope you get to go back soon so you can take the time to listen.

hockey mom said...

This is very good. It made me happy and sad at the same time as I read through it. It brought back a lot of memories. I love the pictures you took. I am going to make copies of this for all of my children.