The Past Is Not Even Past

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Sunday gratefuls: The past. In photographs and maps and military documents. Birthday cards and notes left behind. Report cards and receipts. Ticket stubs. Scrap books. Awards. Buttons and tokens. Foreign money and stamps.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Notes from Kate, saved


Moving stirs up the debris of the past. Joe and I spent several hours yesterday going through boxes of photographs and other memorabilia from the time streams of our family. He found Mom and Dad’s military papers and photographs especially fascinating. He could read the purpose behind Dad’s saved orders. I bet I could reconstruct his whole career from these, he said.

Dad also had maps of air corridors across the U.S. Joe’s an Air Force guy. Dad was in the Army Air Force.

Mom had many photographs, one of her in uniform in color. She had shots from Algiers, Capris, Rome. Even a hotel brochure from Switzerland. She traveled Europe during the war. Working in Signal Corps offices. Joe said she did what he’s doing right now. Reading mail. Editing drafts of documents. Answering the phone.

His grandma and grandpa have a special connection for him even though he didn’t know Mom at all and knew Dad very little.

We laughed at some of his early baseball pictures. Him swinging the bat, using his hips, extended well. Good form at 8 or 10. He laughed at my Amish beard. No mustache. What were you thinking? I had no idea.

Programs from concerts throughout his school years. Joseph Buckman-Ellis, baritone, for example. A cross-country photograph with him on the ground, pulling his legs close to his head. I couldn’t do that now!

Cards from Kate as our relationship began to grow serious. A couple that made me tear up. Others that made me laugh. Letters from another woman I’d been dating at the time, Carolyn. Women’s Theater Project. Another Jewish woman. There were three Jewish women in my life at the time.

A very cute picture of my sister Mary. First grade! A handsome football uniformed picture of my brother Mark. Dad’s journalism awards for best column. Two times.

Photographs from my early visits to Hawai’i with Kate. A lot of very bad photographs. It was harder to learn with the cameras of that era. You shot the photograph, but didn’t know how it turned out until weeks, sometimes months later. How did we ever handle that time before cameras in our phones?

Photographs of our honeymoon. So many sweet and important memories.

A few twinges, too. Carolyn loved me. And I ended our relationship to be with Kate. Sad. I wasn’t good at ending relationships. Too abrupt. Too black or white. Reminded me of another relationship I ended before I started dating Raeone. 75 year old me wishes I’d been braver, more caring in those times.

Going through all this stuff with Joe was sweet and precious. Building and reinforcing memories of family. Of our own past together.


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