Posts Tagged With: history

I wanted to share the stories

Tuesday last I went to the PO to send out all the photos I sorted for my friends and family.
I sent five large first class envelopes, three bigger priority mail padded envelopes, and one big priority mail box.

The first text came from my cousin Chris at 11:32 Thursday morning.

Bless you Robyn! Bless you. Just got the pics you sent me. Brought some much needed happiness, and a tear to my eye. Love you.

The second text came the same day at 5:02 from his sister.

I got the pictures. Thank you so much. Perfect timing Chris is coming over tomorrow.

The third text I got was from Sally at 5:11 Thursday afternoon.

Who are the other two folks?

I got Nicole’s text at 3:24 on Saturday.

We are loving all the pics! Thank you!

At 5:40 this came from Kristen. She taught second grade to both my girls. When Thing 2 was in her class, she had her first child. We saw them frequently. With the aid of social media we stayed in touch all these years, and she was here to celebrate with us last summer at the party for Baby K!

What a surprise!!!! Thank you!!!

He’s checking himself out (heart emoji)

I heard from Becca later Saturday evening at 8:18.

OMG!!!! Loved it!!! Thank you (with a bunch of smiley heart emojis)

Sundance got quarantined away from home, so her package is at her house waiting for her.

And the big box was delivered to the Things father, but I haven’t heard anything. I mean, not that I expected to. But I keep thinking, now I regret being kind to you.

Thing 1 said, “Momma, never regret being kind.” and she’s right.
None of these packages were about me. About the response I got for sending them.

I sent photos to my friends and family because I wanted to share the stories.
Their kids were babies in some of these photos. The stories of their whole young lives caught in these images. I wanted to share those stories, those memories with their families.
I absolutely adored going through these photos. The stories they told came back in vivid detail. Jogging my memory of other stories. I spent a few days reliving my daughters young lives. It was a sacred place to be.
It was also bittersweet. This part of our lives is past. And dwelling too long there would be less precious and more painful with every passing moment.
The time I spent revisiting my life, the lives of the people I love was a beautiful gift. I’ve sent off photos to my friends and family so they can revisit their own journeys. I find myself ready to once again look forward.

I’m pleased to be finished with that portion of the process. I look forward to the time when I can be with each of my girls and go through their boxes of photos. Sharing memories, stories, laughter, and maybe even tears.
In the meantime, I have the last two boxes. These are more photos from my past. Some of me as a child. Some from the collections of my parents and grandparents.
They feel less fun to me. Though, I remain hopeful that I’ll find pics that tell a story I don’t remember. Or one the girls don’t know so I can share with them.

I do still have a box of photo CDs to add to one of those external hard drives. Though, I’m not in a big hurry to get after that. I need a break from my life as a young mother. I don’t want to feel that bittersweet feeling. That pull of the past.

Those CDs will be there. Sitting in that box. Waiting patiently until I’m ready.

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knowing and telling of stories

In case you were wondering the status of the great and arduous process, here’s an update.
This is what It looked like when I finished through 2002.

Each of those boxes was chock full of photos.
I finished the preliminary sort and purge, and returned to those boxes only the photos about which I wanted to share stories. Or photos I wanted the girls to be able to decide what to keep and what to purge.
There are five finished boxes, in those boxes, I sorted the pictures into the following categories.
Thing 1 only
Thing 2 only
the Things together
me
Mommie, Daddie, and Grandaddy (yeah, all in one box, but I only had five)

Of course then I had to bring the rest of the boxes upstairs.

At this point, I’ve gotten through 2004. I haven’t looked at photos since Saturday last. I needed a break this week.
As I sort, if it’s for one of my girls, I write the year and who’s in the pic on the back. First and last names and where the photo was taken if I know. That’s to help jog their memories.

In addition to sorting out photos for the girls, I’m setting some aside to be sent to other people. My intent is to box these up and put them in the mail just as soon as I finish the initial sort and purge. I’m only writing the date on the backs of these.

From left to right, these stacks will be sent to the following people:
Becca
Nicole
the next two are for my cousins
Brooke
Sundance
Sally
the Things father

Grandaddy was on each of these ships.
Either in WWII or Korea.
With a teeny bit of research, I was able to verify which ship was which and label accordingly.
This Golden Dragon thing was kind of cool, I just wish I knew more about it.

I have all his Navy information in a container in the basement. I’m hoping to connect each ship with his time on it, as well as locate his ribbons, dog tags, etc. and compile all that information in one place. For what purpose? Well, in the meantime, just for me. If at some point Thing 2 wants it, yay!, if not, equally yay!, it’s her choice.

It’s interesting to learn more about the man who raised me. He never talked about himself, or his life. As far as we knew, he didn’t exist until the day I was born. He was simply Grandaddy. My mom didn’t talk about his life either, or her own. I grew up knowing practically nothing about the people who raised me.
I tried to do that differently when I became a mom.
I want those girls to know who I am and why. That in addition to being their Momma, I’m a girl. A human being with thoughts and feels and plans and dreams and a sense of humor and flaws. And love.
Knowing and telling each other’s stories is so important!

I’m planning to go back to the photos this coming week.
But today, YBW and I are going to set up the porch! After his cleaning and protective sealing of the porch a couple weeks ago, I purposely waited. I wanted to let the pollening happen before we set it up for porch life. But I’m tired of waiting! I’m looking at the oak trees and realize I simply don’t have the patience to outlast them.
We’re going to set up rugs and furniture and umbrellas today.
Then I’ll be able to go out and porch life whenever I please!

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what story is more important than this

These are the thoughts that hatch as I go through seventy plus years of family photos.

It comes down to being the last living person who has any real understanding of some of these photos, and people. My girls knew my parents, but only in the capacity of children. They didn’t know Grandaddy at all, even though Thing 2 is named for him.

I’m trying to pare down photos of my Grandaddy, mom, and dad, and keep only what tells a story. And then share those stories and let Thing 2 decide how she’s going to proceed. I don’t want her to have to sift through photos and wonder who’s who. Who’s important. Or that she should feel obligated to keep them without being able to answer those questions.
I don’t want her to feel guilty about parting with anything she doesn’t like, want, or understand.

I’m being mindful about each photo I touch. I’m saving much more than I’m actually inclined to, simply because I want to give Thing 2 the opportunity to touch these same photos and see if they mean anything to her.
One example is a letter my great uncle sent to Grandaddy and my grandmother in 1948. My mom was about to celebrate her 3rd birthday and my great uncle was sending pics of being in the army. That was what actually initiated the four and a half hour call to Thing 2. I’m saving all correspondence for her now, so she can see the handwriting and photos and make her own choices.

This process is helping me feel close to my family, but also picking at the scab of grief.

My Grandaddy died in 1992.
I miss him every single day. Not purposefully, it’s just there. A part of me. In my skin. It’s comforting and a sad at the same time. He has always been a part of me and always will. He was my first love. The one who helped me see that love didn’t have to be cruel and conditional.

My mom died in 2011. Mostly I’m relieved I can’t disappoint her anymore. But there are times when I miss the idea of her. Sometimes you just want your mom, even though you know she won’t actually bring you any comfort.
A part of me wishes she could see Thing 1 be Baby K’s mom. But only as long as she kept her criticisms to herself.

My dad died in 2014.
I miss him. The relationship we were building in the last few years of his life. After he came out he was different. Like, he had spoken his truth and could breathe freely for the first time in his life. He loved YBW and was building a strong friendship with him. He was becoming a wonderful grandfather to nearly adult girls and they loved that. I find myself still thinking, Oh! I should call Daddie and tell him…

Going through these photos is helpful.
I feel that twinge of missing them. But I feel peaceful in that.
Seeing pics of Grandaddy in his whites. Or wearing a red wig and making crazy faces.
Or my parents when they were young and actually thought they loved each other.

I want to share as many stories with Thing 2 as I can remember! I want her to know her family.
I’ve got a million photos of me as a little girl, teen, etc. I look so forward to sharing those stories with her!
However arduous this process may be, I’m so joyful to be going through it.

I look forward to sharing stories with her about her childhood. The ones she doesn’t remember. I’m hopeful seeing and touching these photographs will trigger some of them for her. If not, I’ll tell her everything I can remember.

Thing 1 said it wasn’t as much that she didn’t care about the photos as it was she didn’t want to go through thousands of photos to find the six she wants. I’ve solved that problem for her. She can go through hundreds to find the six she wants. I want to share stories with her too, but she remembers so much more than Thing 2 simply because she has three more years of life.

I found this photo of me. Homecoming 1989 maybe?

I sent it in the girls group chat and said, Hey, your momma was kind of a hottie.

How’s that for a story?
Is it only with the power of hindsight we begin to truly see? To truly understand?
I don’t know. But I want to share these stories and these photos with the people I love. I want them to be meaningful and maybe even powerful.
This is us.
This is our life.
This is our history.
What story is more important than this?

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three days in second grade

I was in second grade three days this week.
Y’all, I absolutely adored it!

They just started a new social studies unit about transportation and communication.
These kids were on it!
They were so enthusiastic about brainstorming and exploring transportation. I even brought them photos of our trip through the canal. They were awed by the sheer size of the container ships.
We read books about the history of transportation, even one of my favorites, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.

I missed being at school.
Surrounded by small people who are quick with a giggle or hug.
Surrounded by adult people who are fun, kind, and supportive.

January is a hard month in a school building. After November, when we’re almost out of school more than we’re in, and December when we’re out for two weeks straight, January looms large and long. Everyone is either getting or recovering from being sick, and the flu ran (and continues to run) rampant through my school this year. Teachers and students are tired and need a bit of a break.
But as tricky as January tends to be, my time at school last week was absolutely lovely.

I had the realization that even though I miss it, I know it’s not the right fit for me in the long run. I know that being a substitute teacher is an excellent choice for me. I can participate in my passion for education without the life-drain of doing it every day.
I made the right choice not to get certified to teach.
I made the right choice to leave being in the school building every day.
I made the right choice to pick and choose which classrooms to spend my time, energy, and love.

Elementary school teachers are some of the hardest working humans I know. But the rewards are even more than the work. They have such joy teaching and learning with their students.
I’m grateful and honored to occasionally be among them.

Next week I’ll be in the school library for three days. Checking books in and out, helping students find what they’re looking for, organizing and shelving books. I’m looking forward to spending that library time, but not being exposed to the myriad of germs attached to each book. I’m loading up on the On Guard and black elderberries in preparation.

I’m ready for smiles and hugs, I’m ready for bad attitudes and complaining.
I’m ready to be passionate about education on my own terms.

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railroad at chapman mill

Chapman Mill is a crumbling ruin standing where Prince William and Fauquier Counties come together. I’ve driven past it countless times. Every single time, I say aloud, “I want to go take photos there.” (even if I’m in the car alone)
Well, Saturday two weeks ago, the sun was shining (for the first time in ages) so YBW and I got bundled up against the below freezing wind chills and headed to the mill.
I got to wear my brand new love YOUR melon beanie for the first time!
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(Little D’s new mom and I were texting about getting together and I took this photo asking her to tell him I kiss him. But at least you can see my hat so it’s cool.)

When we arrived at the mill site we were greeted by this.
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I was livid! THE FREAKING GATE WAS LOCKED!! We couldn’t get all the way down the road to the mill. I will admit to saying one or two bad words…well, perhaps it was one or two bad sentences. How dare you hang a sign to welcome me and then lock the gates? Rude!

But…the railroad runs right beside the mill. So I get it in my head to walk down the tracks to the mill.
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Only the moment I walk up the path to the tracks I hear the whistle of a train…I waved to the engineer and he waved to me. It called up all the many times in my life I’ve stood at the side of the railroad and done that. It brought me great joy and in that brief moment, I was a little girl again.
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YBW decides right then it may not be the safest course of action since the sides are steep and there really is nowhere to go but down. I was like, but the train just came by, this is the safest time. We split the difference and I just stood at the path crossing. Honestly, I didn’t want to go down to the mill by myself, I wanted to share that experience so it worked out OK in the end.

I absolutely loved this curve in the tracks. I think the railroad is so elegantly beautiful for being something so well constructed for such hard core usage.
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You know I had to look for spikes while I was up there. And I found some, just lying around in the rocks. I love how a railroad spike and rocks create these natural sort of collages.
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There were three such collages, but this is the particular spike I picked up and carried home.

The mill really is quite compelling. In a hauntingly sad yet beautiful way.
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I’m eager to return when the gates no longer lock me out. The wheel is still there on the other side of the mill. You can see Broad Run, which is a lovely. The view from the interstate is even more beautiful than this view from the railroad. I’m keeping my hackles up, but I’ll be checking back more frequently as the weather warms.

When we left the mill site, we drove down along the tracks just to see where they went. This was the opposite way of home, but we were on an adventure! We were out with our cameras to shoot things that moved us!

I loved the way this railroad crossing sign looked behind the overgrown grasses.
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Lastly I got on my knees in the middle of another crossing to shoot the tracks from a different point of view.
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The mail carrier who had to wait for me to get my shot and get back up out of the way before he could drive his truck over the crossing didn’t seem terribly impressed by my attempt to create art…of course he had a job to do and I was just out shoot stuff.

We decided to go back out today with our cameras. I’ll leave my warm beanie at home today because instead of upper 20s wind chills, we’ll have upper 60s temperatures today! I might even wear a dress depending on where we decide to go shoot.
Spring is kicking down winter’s door today and I intend to take full advantage of it!

Here’s a quick vid about the mill and it’s restoration.
(My advice to you is: mute the music.)

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baseball and the first amendment

We went to the Newseum on Friday before we headed over to the Nats game.
Two of my absolute most favorite things!
I was getting my dork on something fierce at the Newseum!
Newseum
Do you know on the front of the building is printed what I consider the most important words ever written in the history of the United States?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Those words! Even just writing them here on this page gave me the gooseflesh.
I don’t think many folks ever really think about the importance of the first amendment. I think about it every single day. I am a woman in a country where I can say what I think without worrying about my safety. I can have a relationship my God without the interference from the government. I can read any news and know that it’s been (mostly) fair, unbiased, and not at all controlled by the government.
What would have happened to Woodward and Bernstein, or Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham in the early 1970s if there was no first amendment?
Look how many places there are in the world where this isn’t the case!

Newseum Freedom of the Press Map

Newseum Freedom of the Press Map

I am the first amendment’s biggest fan! (I’m so sure there are loads of folks who say the the same thing. But I’m not talking about them today, I’m talking about me.)
I’m oftentimes jaded about our government. I’m oftentimes jaded about our archaic constitution. But I have moments when I am at one with the concepts that helped create our government…

It was steamy at Nationals Park Friday night. Gio Gonzalez pitched beautifully. Both Daniel “Hits” Murphy and Thing 2’s beloved “greasy hobo”, Jayson Werth hit solo dingers. Murphy had a ground out RBI and Werth hit an RBI double. The “face of the franchise” Bryce Harper hit a two run triple.
We cheered. We clapped. We high-fived and fist-bumped all night long. There were beautiful plays in the field. The boys of summer where on it Friday night!
The Nats won in a walk off the first game of their series with the Rockies. (as it turns out, it was the only win of the series)
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Manassas Battlefield

I absolutely adore Manassas Battlefield. I used to love to go there as a child and spend hours wandering aimlessly. I go there now as a grown up to experience that nostalgia.
I love the history of my home state. I love the fact that these places have been preserved, the physical places as well as the history.
When I go now, I almost always experience the battlefield from behind the camera.

The Henry House is my favorite place to visit. I love the view from the hill there. The story of Mrs Henry, stuck in her home due to illness as the first battle of bull run raged around her always resonated in me. She wasn’t able to leave her home before the fighting and ended up mortally wounded by Union fire.

The Henry House

The Henry House

I love how the changing light affects everything.

The Henry House

The Henry House

YBW likes to wander and play Ingress (To me it seems like a kind of electronic version of capture the flag for grown ups.) on his phone, “capturing” and “hacking” “portals” all around the battlefield.
The cool part of him playing this game on his phone is that I’ll tag along with my camera. We get out of the car, go our separate ways, and come back together after an hour or so.
I get time behind the lens, joy of being in a place I love, and he gains important “points” and “badges”. It’s pretty much win-win.

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The Stone House as seen from the top of Henry Hill. It was used as a hospital during both the first and second battles of Bull Run. I remember being at a post sledding bonfire there once when I was really little. I remember feeling a combination of excitement and fear. I was so tired after a day of up and down the hill but the bonfire was so thrilling. All the people, the chaos, me feeling very small and vulnerable and afraid to get separated from my mom caused great anxiety within me.

The Stone House

The Stone House

Sometimes folks get their nickname here.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall Jackson” when General Bee of South Carolina observed his resolve in battle and cried out, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

There stands Jackson like a stone wall.

Stonewall Jackson

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