We all grow up with the weight of history on us.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden
in every cell of our bodies.
Shirley Abbott, magazine editor and writer
I have written before about this old lady who seems to inhabit my house alongside Lotte and me. I haven’t invited her in, but wherever I go she is there before me. When I go into the bathroom she is looking at me where the mirror is supposed to be. I pass along the hall and there she is again. She’s in the bedroom, the living room and at the front door. I don’t know who she is or why she is living in my house.
She doesn’t even appear to be happy that she is getting free board and lodging without having been invited. And she has never heard the expression that guests are like fish – great on the first day, getting a little stale on the second and definitely off by the third.
So why is she here? And today I even saw her at a friend’s house. Is she stalking me? She was in the car on the way home getting a free ride. But the most worrying thing is that I am the only one who ever sees her. When I ask a family member they tell me that they can only see me. So what’s going on here?
Seriously though, I remember somebody saying to my late husband when we decided to get married “Look at her mother. That’s how she will look when she is older.” And goodness me, that is coming true. I always thought that I looked like my father but not any more.
And I hear myself saying some of the things she used to say and even doing things her way. So is it genetics or learned behaviour? I haven’t lived in the same house as Mother for 55 years and she has been dead for 16 of those years. Added to that I haven’t even lived in the same country for most of my adult life, so where does this come from? (Yes I know, grammatically incorrect but it reads better this way).
And then looking at the next generation. I see my own daughter saying and doing things in the same way that my Mother used to and that I now do. So like the family face some other things are passed down through the generations.
And the family face – here’s the first verse of the poem by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928):
I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
So where is this rambling post taking me? I don’t know but know it must end here.
as the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in its rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother and Friend 1938 –