Saturday, May 22, 2010

Imagining


Some while ago, I wrote that I had started poking around in my father's family tree. Almost immediately, I discovered a cousin I have never met, living in Northern California. Even more exciting than that, his wife turned out to be an avid genealogist with a fascinating family history of her own. We have connected via e-mails and one phone call. There is an immediate comfort in our relationship...we seem to share many similarities in our souls. It has been so cool to find family after all these years, and I feel like I've hit the lottery to find someone who holds so many keys to my otherwise foggy family history.

One of the few things I had to bring to the party with Linda is this photograph of my Great Grandmother, Adela. I have little knowledge of her, and her daughter, my father's mother, is all but a ghostly apparition to me in my own, distant, childhood memories. Adela's father was from France, her mother from Mexico. I wonder what her childhood was like...if she spoke English, or was multi-lingual. I once owned the wedding band she gave her husband on their wedding day, but it was stolen by a housecleaning service many years ago, and not discovered by me until long afterward. I grieved about this for years after the discovery. I do, however, own her little handkerchief, which has her name embroidered in the corner, in the tiniest of script. I guard it cautiously. I wonder if she could have ever imagined a world such as ours, and so many descendants, and an almost 6' great granddaughter, guarding her few remaining tangible (non human) proofs of life, and longing to know more about her?

She looks very young here, doesn't she? I wonder what the occasion was for this photograph. I wish we could magically transport through time and meet.

This photograph makes me wish I had an inclination for writing fiction...imagine the story I could weave around it.

(Note to all of us: write names, dates, and occasions on the backs of those photos! And what the heck is going to become of files of digital photographs, unlabeled?)

2 comments:

swamericana said...

Really good to talk with a cousin and family about the family tree. I like to have the fog cleared up, too. Adela goes back how far, do you think? I was thinking of the French intrusion during the 1860s in Mexico that may be connected? My great-grandmother was born in the 1870s. I agree: write information on the back of photographs. I'm at a loss for now about the digital permanence of photos. In the last few years, we've only taken digital since Kodachrome is defunct. But, we don't print the photos. They're just stored on the hard drive or CD.

Since you mentioned your height, I took a careful look at Adela's photo. Relative to the chair's height, say three to four feet, Adela may be tall. If she is not standing on a stool or pedestal, she may be as tall as...? And, what is that statute? I know it's a probably a prop, but what is it?

Hope all is well in California.

(Jack Matthews)

Taos Sunflower said...

Jack: I just went and checked and it appears that Adela was born around 1860...so I am imagining her photo was taken maybe during her late teens...?
Interesting observation on the possibility of her having some height. I don't recall seeing my grandmother ever standing, but Adela's daughter Julia was in my life and she was a large woman and of my stature. It would be interesting to know which side of the family, French of Spanish, that came from.
My cousin Linda observed that the statue appears to be a conquistador and I think she's right.
Perhaps my great grandfather was one of the French in Mexico and after marrying his wife there, then moved to California (he showed up on a census record in Alameda County I posted last fall).
Oh...to know the mysteries.