I grew up knowing my mother’s side was the Bird family. But it was my cousin Kathleen, who reminded me after I finished this mixed media bird painting, that her middle name was Bird. I have been thinking a lot about the Birds ever since.
When we remember our ancestors, and look into the faces of those with traces of our own selves, we realize we are not alone. To know their story is a gift. I find it calming to be reminded of the lives they lead, in simpler times – in black and white times– where families sat around fire places and wore grand hats.
There are so many gaps in their stories, we never get to know. And we can only put them together in pieces from worn out photos.
I wonder what it was like for Granny, “Kitty”, in the depression, that caused her to never throw a scrap of food away. I wish I knew what her marriage was like, and who her father was. The man who died when she was 4, from tuberculosis. And the gracious manner of Uncle Bill, with his tall, commanding presence that always made me feel at home. A skill my brother has inherited.
The old photos looks simple and comforting, like everything was perfect. Although we know nothing can be. But that’s what we dream of, right? Somewhere to go back to, if only in our heads, where there was all the love in the world, and everything was perfect.
These are our stories. Not the ones in books, but our own very real past. These people are the foundation of who we are. And knowing them, the best we can, is a part of how we know ourselves.