Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Ghosts in my Head

From whence (and whom) I came, or at least a part. A photograph of some ancestors, the branch that travels back along my maternal linage ... Smith (nee Slade) > Slade (nee Cundiff) > Carter/Cundiff (nee Shufflebarger ...

I read that the reason people in older photographs look so somber was their concern that they appear serious. The peoples of the 19th and early 20th century were no more somber than people today. They may have possessed an idea of decorum that seems quaint to us in these times, but they were not always dour of expression and wearing formal clothing.  They donned their best when sitting for portraits, and looked serious with few smiles because they viewed portraiture as a legacy, a family heirloom if you will. 

I have always felt a connection with this particular branch of my family tree for a rather odd reason. My MawMaw Slade had an old dresser that had been in her grandmother's (Grandma Shufflebarger) room. Grandma Shufflebarger lived with her daughter (Grandma Carter) the last years of her life. There were bits an pieces in the drawers, and I used to love to rifle through them, weaving stories as I felt and smelled these remnants of a woman who had been my grandmother's grandmother. 

There were buttons, bits of lace, a handkerchief or two. Odd bits of metal, rusty and worn that were more than likely parts to benign objects. There was a faint lingering floral aroma, more than likely from powders or toilet water that had been used to scent and refresh garments. 

MawMaw pretty much left me to my own devices when I visited except for the times she had a chore that could be entrusted to a clumsy 11 year old Ellen. My meanderings through the farmhouse upstairs usually abruptly ended with the discovery of a book or pamphlet I had not yet read. I discovered Zane Grey novels and fear inducing pamphlets that had been left behind by a great uncle and aunt who were ardent Seventh-day Adventists.  

I spent time with my Granny Smith as well, but she was much more strict with what I messed with, so most of my curiosity when at her house was satisfied with being entertained by tales of my father, aunts, and uncles when they were children. 

I now have a button box that once belonged to my Aunt Zelma. She is sitting beside my Granny Smith in the picture above. There have been times in the recent past when I sat with it, looking at the bits and pieces she squirrelled away, and much as I did as a child, I weave stories of a past I feel so connected to but one whose details are created whole-cloth from my imagination. 

These ghosts that live in my head, weaving their magic and transporting me to times passed and unexplored, have been with me for many decades. I am rather fond of them.

I have a vision of Earth, healed ... an Earth that is healed through the lessons learned from the real, and imagined, ghosts of our past. 

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