Sis is here---she’s showering, after a breakfast of brought-in pastries and donut holes, with a little pink smoked porkchop apiece, sizzled in a dry skillet for just long enough to make them warm and soft. Their salty porkiness was perfect with the sweet yeasty pastries.
There’s a slow Summer rain, it’s just us ladies for the day, and our BabyGirl is mesmerized with Elmo’s great agility in counting-to-ten. She’s confident, herself, up to one-two-three-four-five, then falters a little and mouths the rest along with the bright red tutor-of-all-things-toddler.
We’re just cocooning for today, looking through musty old boxes of famiy pictures. Sis did the genealogy several years ago, and thus, by her hard work and dedication (she spent a week in Salt Lake City, in those archives which seem to keep track of every single person ever to be born or come settle on American soil)---I have a lot of names to go with the family tales and memories handed down by the older women of the family, especially our Mammaw.
And we’re determined to write some NAMES on the backs of these pictures. There were so few photographed moments in the lives of all these forebear faces captured in black-and-white, some whispering away in places like dissolving smoke, and quite a few faded into sepia. It makes me sad that looking through the dusty boxes leaves me with puzzlement and a gentle pang of regret that so many faces are now unnameable and forgotten.
Perhaps we can link Second Cousin Thelma’s resemblance to her Mama’s face, and name Aunt Laverne by the eyebrows of “The Murdock Side.” I wish, I wish for the foresight to have done this when those who knew them and loved them and grew up as sisters and cousins with them were still able to pick up a photo, give a little whuff of vapor onto bifocals, wipe the lenses on a skirt-hem, and smile a smile of recognition of a face long lost to time.
But we’ve missed that. The window has closed, as have all the eyes which would have brightened in the remembering. With them went the connection of names and faces, and those of us who know them only by family lore and the spidery scribing in the withered Bible---we look at the women who were young and slim and full of life, and wish we’d known them. And more, we wish we knew them now---who they are, and how we're related to them.
So we’re visiting with a lot of people, both kin and friend, with a scatter of funeral flowers, my mother in her cap and gown, the small square tin likeness, framed in frivolous green vines and bearing the grim visage of Great-Grand Roma---her skimpy skinned-back bun and her downturned mouth reflecting the fashion of the times for old-lady garb and demeanor. And I’ll bet she was WAY on the young side of Fifty.
Sis just jubilantly commented that this is the picture that finally persuaded Mother to let her get her ears pierced, at sixteen. Sis had long wanted to take that next step, as had all her friends, but not until she unearthed the stiff little tintype with the unlikely garnish of little gold hoops flanking the solemn face, and went running to Mother saying “OOOO!! OOOO!! See thissss!” did Mother relent and take her to get the earrings installed.
No history being made today, but a lot remembered and savored, from this far remove in time and recognition. We’ll put names to the ones we can and look regretfully at the rest, and that will have to be enough.