One of the happy surprises of Facebook, for me, has been getting in touch with my father’s side of the family. My Uncle Dick had five kids, whom we rarely saw growing up and therefore barely knew. They grew up in Queens, packed into a tiny stand-alone. We grew up in various four-bedroom houses in suburban neighborhoods. We moved every two or three years and thus came from nowhere, while they were rooted to a single block of their borough. I got ballet lessons, piano lessons, skiing lessons, new clothes. They got a lot less.
But how much there is in common! Given what a biological determinist being a parent has made me, I’m not sure why this amazes me. I have been corresponding, in particular, with my cousin Ginny.
In the process of emailing and talking on the phone, I have discovered a couple of things worth sharing — 1) that no matter what one’s means, life’s lessons are dealt and inner resources can be garnered; and 2) that family legends can be pure bunk.
One of my mother’s less generous habits was to vilify my father and his family. A classic statement of hers, which both sums up years of name calling and gives you a pretty good indication of my mother’s capacity for cutting commentary, was: “My family may have been nuts, but his was cruel.” Along similarly insulting lines, it was considered that all the creative talent in my family came from my mother and her side of the family. My father, an engineer, was deemed methodical and persistent, at best, and at worst, a drone.
The creative gene WAS passed to me and my siblings by my mother, there is no doubt, but when I discovered what a talented painter, beautiful photographer and prodigious blogger my cousin Ginny is, I realized I had been sold a bill of goods about my father’s side of the family (although meanness, there, did reside).
This is by way of a long introduction to the photos of the Boro House, above. After I ‘planted’ the house out front near my sedum, I decided to send it to Ginny on Long Island, where she lives and blogs (although I believe most of her writing is done on the train commuting to NYC. It’s worth a look – Life in Crab Meadow). In the meantime, she has sent me a whole package of vintage aprons (!!!) and a set of antique embellished collars and cuffs stitched in Japan.
I love the idea of being connected, now, by cloth and stitches. This house was made in my house and is now planted in HER garden. And, I now make dinners wearing one of the aprons that Ginny gave to me. Cloth and stitches, making connections, even though we haven’t seen each other since our grandmother died decades ago (was I 14? 16?)