In search of story

March 24.20: Coping


Coping is as coping does.  Me, I’m attacking my Fibber McGee family history closet.

It is arguable that this is the worst project I could undertake since I am isolated and already filled with dread and anger.  With every envelope and box I open, ghosts waft out. Loss is freshened and grief revisited. I miss these places and these people long gone — who were they and why did they make the choices they made?

You’d think, given the load of paper they left me, I’d find the answers. Not a chance.

There are photos and negatives (remember negatives?), deeds, receipts, bank books, letters, post cards, diplomas, telegrams, cocktail napkins, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks…the Smithsonian of, yes, oddments. What a tell-all lurks! If only I could figure out the “all” to tell!

For now, I sift and sort. One bit of history at a time.

Take, for instance, this historical scrap, which, in other circumstances, would be timely: my dad’s tax return for 1941, the year he and Mom were married, shows the princely income of $2674.68. But, even better, his whole return was completed on a one-page — one page! — 8.5 x 11 tax form. If you live in the USA, you are grabbing for the smelling salts.

Or this: the bedroom furniture you see in this photo — bed, chest, dresser — was purchased in 1946 for $79. I think they got their money’s worth.

The flip side of this way of coping is that I can write about it. Blogging is coping, yes? Maybe in the writing I’ll get to some of the answers I seek. Or maybe I’ll learn to ask different questions.

5 thoughts on “March 24.20: Coping

  1. Yes, blogging is coping. Our instincts rarely lead us completely awry. There will be some reason behind the urge you felt, just as when we are guided by some force when we pick a book from the shelf and find a sentence, a passage or a situation we’d forgotten was there but exactly fits our need.

    The power of history has some comforting force at the moment – even if it is only a sense that it will not always be this particular now.

    I have picked up a strange and long book to re-read but find myself unable to start it, so perhaps it was the wrong choice. I perhaps have to remember my sweetheart’s quip about the way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time. (No elephants were harmed in the making of that thought).

    • Much wisdom in what you say, and I agree that an instinct to read or write or dig through family history can be a good thing to act on. I will be holding to your nicely-turned words: it will not always be this particular now. I think “This Particular Now” would be an excellent title. Your sweetheart has it right: one bite at a time. Sometimes, though, one just doesn’t have the taste for an elephant.

  2. I think it’s wonderful! There’s nothing like family history to give one a fresh perspective on the here and now.

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