“Aye John, and this is your Mum when she was about five or six years old.”
I looked into the face of this little cherub and I could see my mother looking out at me. She had the same smile, the same eyes, the same chin and the same wooly hair. It was Mom in miniature.
What was she thinking at that moment? Could she have known in her wildest dreams that she would bear four children and live the greater part of her life in America?
Who among us has such dreams?
I was in the home of Bobby Forrest, my mother’s classmate and best chum through their school years. “You see that guy in the back, the one with his tie hanging out? He and I had just had a “punch up” in the school yard, so the teacher made me sit in the front and he stood in the back.”
A witness, he was there, it was real.
Bobby had two other class pictures, one from the next year and one when they were about fifteen, at some school dance. But, it was the little girl in the first one that was so moving to me. She just looked more like Mom.
This has been an interesting journey for me in a variety of ways, not the least of which has been my introduction to the world of my parent’s childhood.
“Oh you’re Jenny Jarvie’s son! I knew your Mum when we were both wee. She lived down the road with her sister Liz and brother John.
“Yes, I knew your grandfather well. We played golf together every week.”
“Was that your Gran? Aw, she was a lovely wee woman, always smiling.
As children my sisters and I lived a long way from our grandparents, aunts and uncles. So, our knowledge of Mom and Dad really started with our birth. Which is to say, we knew nothing about their early years and had no one to tell us the stories of their own youth.
Now, here I am, an adult, living in the same place that was home to my mother for the first twenty plus years of her life.
Nostalgia is not the right word. Nostalgia is remembering something through the misty, rose-colored glasses of history.
No, what I am feeling goes deeper than nostalgia. It’s more like recovering from amnesia. Only instead of relearning things I’ve forgotten, I am learning things I have only known in my soul and in my blood; things that cannot be named, but are experienced as a visceral yearning, or a lump in the back of the throat.
Looking at that picture of Mom definitely brought the lump and definitely stirred me at a deep level.
It is right that I am here.