The past – treatments in life and in writing

In Current reading, notes, photography, proto drafts on July 11, 2016 at 8:44 am

A trove of family snapshots. One family member’s written attempt at transmitting some information about who the ancestors were and how life panned out for parents,  brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, the younger siblings etc Most of the trails concerning the ancestors lead nowhere, except to intriguing dead ends: did our maternal great-grandmother die aboard the Lusitania or not? What is this about the housekeeper I recall as Ukrainian and who appears in the notes as a sadistic German giving scalding baths to helpless children? My own appearance in the notes takes me somewhat by surprise, as much for what is said as for what isn’t.

Two pathetic tidbits stand out this morning: the first concerning her fiancé’s insistence they marry before year’s end, for income tax purposes – the rest of the relationship proved so disastrous most of it goes unsaid in the notes. The other: when our mother left for her final stay in the hospital, her husband went home and disconnected the phone – without telling anyone of her whereabouts. Thus providing his own take on our mother’s oft-repeated statement that you’re born alone and you die alone (comfort wasn’t a biggie in her trove of aphorisms).

Family – some get too much of it, some, not enough. Either way, the true wonder being how a group of people, related or not, will tell the story of a given event. Barring the framework, few of the facts will match up.


When in Mexico, my sister lives in writer Juan Rulfo’s home town. I’d never heard of Rulfo before nor of his novella Pedro Paramo. On the back cover, Gabriel Garcia Marquez compares him to Sophocles. She picked up a French translation of it yesterday which I hope to read during her stay.

The first sentences couldn’t be more forthright: “I came to Comala because I learned my father, a certain Pedro Paramo, lived there. My mother told me. And I promised her I would go see him after she died.” Take it from there, reader.

She also brought me a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with illustrations by Teniel. A bit of childhood revisited.


I’ll read through Number Two Sister’s notes again, for sure. I know we’ll talk about them – and our own recollections – with Sister Number One. My main interest being how people evolve, or don’t. How we re-write the scripts as we go along. And the gravitational pull exerted by all the Great Unsaid – or not said spot on.


The local Portuguese community went wild with glee last night. Portugal won against France in the World Soccer semi-finals. The honking cars, the cheering and the firecrackers went on for such a long time I’m still wondering how they all managed to sustain their enthusiasm over such a long period. I mean, how long can a body find meaningful accomplishment in racing around a town square, screeching the tires and blaring the horn? (Much longer than imaginable, I discovered last night). Then a thunderstorm struck, the revelers took cover, and I thank the gods for that.



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