Got the almost 19 year-old sitting in the passenger seat on my right and right as he is about to tell me something I bark at him to wait.
Didn’t intend to, but I had just seen news that dear friends had lost their mother and I wanted to take a moment to make sure I hadn’t misread it.
I do the modern thing and send off a quick text message saying how sorry I am and leave a quick blurb on Facebook.
It is the sort of news that would catch my attention regardless of time of year, but it is made more poignant by recent events and experiences, especially since I understand what it means to lose a parent.
Two hours before we hit the new bagel place across from the Target on Glade to see if they were ok, thinking maybe we’d grab a few to break the fast with.
I had felt off the whole time and blamed it on stress and a brain that is moving at hyper speed, but once I got the news it confirmed it was going to be a different sort of holiday.
Not just for me, but for others I know who have very personal reasons for finding this time…tougher.
The kids want to know why I am so determined to dig into the family history and if I am obsessed.
I shrug my shoulders, say sort of and go tearing through websites pulling out large chunks of information and quickly determining which documents are relevant and which aren’t.
My son asks if I am reading as fast as it appears and I nod my head.
“Are you absorbing the information?”
“I think so. I was pretty damn good at cramming for tests and I am still pretty good at trivia. If you knew how much crap is jammed between my ears you’d be amazed. Don’t know how it all fits, oh I know, when you read your mind expands.”
He rolls his eyes at me because he has heard this before and because at least once a month I ask him where he learned some nugget of information and he tells me he read it. I tell him to keep it up and remind him I never say no to buying books.
I turn back to the computer and review my great-grandfather’s census information for 1910 and a draft card for WWI.
Point and click my way through more sites and come across what feels like a goldmine of information about a different great-grandfather, his parents and siblings.
I d0n’t recognize the name of the person who entered the information but it appears to match the married name of one of his sisters.
Point-and-click two more times to try to confirm I haven’t confused the family with another Jewish family with similar names.
Almost pick up the phone to call grandma to ask about Uncle Paul and remember she died on my 14th wedding anniversary.
Would call grandpa but he is gone eight years now and I go with my gut and save the information because I’ll be able to confirm with mom or some of the other relatives.
I remember grandma telling me she didn’t like her father’s parents very much and I stare at the screen at the names of people, some of whom were born 119 years before I was born and wonder.
There are more relatives around on mom’s side to confer with so some of the questions I have are in theory more easily answered.
But I am not so easily dissuaded when I have planted my feet so I flip back to the Wilner side and resume walking with ghosts.
It is shocking every time I see dad’s name on these sites or should I say it is shocking to see deceased. It irks me a bit because it ought not to be so shocking because I know exactly where he is because I helped put him there.
I have written about it a dozen or more times but for some reason seeing it on screen feels like a bucket of cold water has been dumped upon my head.
It seems unfair for him not to get to see his grandchildren grow up and to get to see who and what they become.
Reminds me of his telling me to promise to keep an eye on everyone and my looking at him and asking him to spell it out.
“You know what I am saying.”
“I do and you know what I will do with it.”
And with that I took the blood oath my father asked of me.
The balrog shall not pass. The narrow walkway to the castle is mine to hold off the hordes, one at a time, even if there be one of me and 10,000 of them.
Maybe I am searching for the family members who think and act as I do or maybe not.
I want to let the beard go and see how big and thick it can get but can’t go that route for a variety of reasons now.
Swung by a place in Plano that I have been to a few times and asked them to clean me up. Since I was a walk in they gave me the first person that was available.
She was a nice lady who told me about her first born who is all of eight months.
I told her I have good memories of my kids at that age and to enjoy it. Told her that my baby is 15 and asked me if I started young.
It made me laugh and I said I don’t give bigger tips for ridiculous compliments.
She laughed and we went back and forth a bit and I told her to take a harder look at my face.
“There are lots of lines and wrinkles.”
“I guess, but you are really not gray. The guy who was in the chair before you just turned 40 and his hair is practically white.”
I laughed and said I am 50 and that the reason I am not gray is because I am bald.
She said ‘not quite’ and asked if I wanted to have my head shaved.
Twenty minutes later I walked out to my car, took a moment to stretch and got ready for the 40 minute ride home.
Somewhere in the middle of the drive back I swear I heard dad tell me it is about becoming who we are.”
Made a point to look in the rear view mirror to see if had climbed in the back seat but didn’t see him there.
Maybe it was nothing more than imagination or maybe it was something else. Decided it didn’t matter how or why I heard it but liked the way it sounds because feels right.
Now is about becoming who we are.