Awhile ago I came to the understanding that I have tried in a thousand ways to ignore many parts of my family roots and background. Why I have done so is not particularly clear to me. And like most of what we do and why we do it is no doubt a combination of many different factors. Some that can be named, and some that will always remain mysterious to us.
At the same time my wife has tried to get me to write down some of the stories I have told to my daughters over the years. It is something I have not yet been able to do.
It is my hope that this new feature at ClimbingSky will achieve both things. And secondarily that it may be of some interest to someone besides myself.
For now, I am calling these posts Groundwork.
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I begin with two random photos chosen from the many my mother took with her Kodak long before I was born.
These photos, probably taken at my Uncle Rudy’s place outside Cheney, Washington, show an Eastern Washington landscape: semi-arid, with stands of pine, big exposed rocks covered with scabs, and a soil seeded with crumbling, volcanic rock.
Uncle Rudy, Rudolph Rosenzweig, was my mother’s uncle. If this is his place, by the time I was young and we were living in Cheney (1966-1972) the house in this picture was still standing but long abandoned.
Memories and stories are passed to us like these photos: often fuzzy and aged… with limited or no real context. The stories we receive and the stories we tell are conceptualized, contextualized, and changed by those who tell them and those who hear them.
I look at these photos now and add my own context and stories. Uncle Rudy had horses and cattle and kept chickens that he, Uncle Jim, and my dad would butcher with a hatchet. When the heads came off the chickens, my brother Paul, my cousins, and I would run from the flapping bodies that always seemed to run toward us.
My mother died in 1982. She was 50 and I was 21. My brother Paul was 19. My brother Jon was 11. My father was 51.
I am now 57, already living 7 years longer than she did. My daughter Dylan is 24. My other daughter Morgan is 22. Sue, my wife, is 54.
I sit down and try my hand at remembering.