We got up early on Saturday morning. It would be a long day and we had to hit the road and get started. For hours we packed and loaded boxes onto one truck, then another, and then a trailer. I kissed my dad goodbye promising to see him again soon, and we drove the 3 ½ hours to Mariposa where my sister, her family, and my father are moving.
At about 10:30 that night we were wrapping things up. We were filthy and exhausted as we emptied the last truck into the warehouse where my dad’s belongings will be stored for a few months. Then, just before we were ready to shut the door on the warehouse, I saw a box. It caught my eye because it had my writing on it, and then I realized it was the box from my mother’s drawer of photographs. It's been waiting 11 years since my parents moved away from my childhood home. I announced to whomever might be listening, "I’m taking this box home with me to make copies". Nobody seemed to care, all too tired I suppose.
At home, I opened the lid and right on top was the cheerful silhouette of my brother at probably age five. Beneath that was the crude and perfect drawings of my brother, Kenny. The sedimentary layers of the box unfolded their story to me as I dug further and further back in time. My sisters with their new babies, graduation pictures, high school, grade school. I found pictures from my childhood that brought up so many feelings; mostly heavy and sad ones. I don't really understand why, but just the fact that I see that children have to grow up makes me sad. A gloom settled over me.
Then my hands found a brown paper bag filled with nearly a half pound of negatives from the 1930's and 40's. I sat holding them up to the light one by one, and though it’s hard to make out from their reverse black and white, I saw the little faces of my mother, her twin sisters, her twin brothers, another sister and my dear, sweet grandmother.
And my grandfather.
His tall looming figure towers above the tiny children who stand in perfect formation under his stern gaze. His ever present hat and thick, dark glasses give him any eerie look -or maybe it’s not the dark glasses that are so disconcerting, but him. He was a not a good person. Not at all.
It was hard to see the sadness on my mother's face.
I wish I could go back in time.
I wish I could heal the hurts of the past, through the generations.
I hope when I see her again she is smiling.