I have realized that I don't really know my parents.
Which sounds like an odd thing to say. I mean, how can you not know your parents, especially your biological ones, the ones that gave birth to you, and loved you unconditionally your whole life. How can you not know them?
Well, it's kind of complicated. And I do know them, I just don't know them.
I know my parents. I know their names were Alvin and Idell Olson, their birthdays, their wedding anniversary, some information about where they grew up, and so on. But I don't really know them.
My parents died when I was 17 and 18, respectively. They weren't young by any means, my father was 75 and my mother was 58. My father was a lot older than my mother, and they didn't think they could have any children, so when I was born 19 year later when my dad was 57 and my mom was almost 40, well, it was a blessed surprise.
Being an only child, my parent's deaths changed my life dramatically. And it was hard the first few years, I'm not gonna lie. It's still hard at times now, and even though time may heal the wounds, scars can still hurt too.
I never really thought much about my parent's history in great depth, except that, you know, it exists. I've been a bit of a family history buff for years, but lately it's been ratcheted up a notch, and I've been putting information into a online family tree program with fervor.
I even managed to find some of my parents' friends from way back, and when I was trying to explain why I was looking for them, I really had to say, 'I don't know why I want to get in contact with you..I just did.' And even though I won't be physically able to visit these people, or any other of my family for at least another 6 months, somehow, I want that connection.. People that knew my parents better than I did.
I have the urge to literally contact people that knew my parents well, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, and say, "I want to know more about my parents. Please tell me about them. Favorite memories, what they meant to you..", things like that. I can know the statistics all I want, but tell me about the person.
I'm afraid that I'm forgetting. Not my parents themselves, but details. I can't remember the sound of their voices, and I'm yearning for a way to hear it again. (I do have some very old tape of them somewhere, on a old fashioned reel to reel tape recorder, but I have no idea if it is my possession right now. If I have to guess, I'm have to say it's not, and I have some suspicion of where it is, which will be another 6 months before I can access that either.)
I have a lot of 8mm home movies that I'd like to get on DVD, which I never seem to get around to doing. I think I want to see those images of them, maybe it will be tangible again, and I won't feel this want.
My husband and I were watching 'World War II in HD' on Netflix last week. It was a very personal thing for me, as the episode we were watching, I could reference my dad's Army letters and determine, that, yes, my father could have been in that very part of the world, only in about 3 months' time. Somehow, it made his letters and the situation much more real to me.
So why am I doing this, looking back, trying to reconnect with my past at this level? I used to want to go back to my grandma's house and "up north" to try to remember a simpler time, when I had no worries and life was more carefree. But I know I can't have that again. Is it because I see my children growing up, and the struggles and breakthroughs they have, and I wonder what my own childhood was like then? Is it because I know my children will never know their grandparents, and I remember having a set of grandparents I have little to no recollection about? Once again, I don't really know. I just feel it is important for me to try and reconnect.
This picture is one of my favorites. It was taken in October of 1995, about 9 months before my dad died. It's my dad with my mom, and my Uncle Everett (my dad's brother) on the right. I could have cropped it to bring my mom and dad more into the picture, but I didn't. And here's why. I want the whole picture because of the details, of things I don't want to forget about not only my parents, but the house I grew up in. The tacky kitchen wallpaper, the items on the wall, even the fact that I can look out the kitchen window and see a truck parked in the yard. (doubtful it was ours, but still, the memories...) I don't want to lose any of that in my mind's eye. And so, I guess I search.