What is it you see?
Is this an abstract painting? Or perhaps a photo? Maybe a mural or an up close fairy garden?
What it is to me, is a beginning.
It’s a place of my Father’s childhood. An image. A gorge. A hike, a family, a brother who played a tune by the fireside, along nighttime cliffs; his dog by his side.
It’s a beginning for a family once devastated by a tornado, putting down new roots in another community. It’s six of seven kids corralled by a tired Mom and an underpaid Dad. A place of adventure at the children’s doorsteps a nightmare and blessing both, for the Parents.
Here a brother, an Uncle I never met, danced with the fireflies, entertained fairy sparks and had an imagination which could have just as easily taken him to the -flung regions of the kingdom of Siam or the mysteries of China.
My Father, who had been warned not to venture down the cliffs, at his tender age, once went with the big boys, swimming in his briefs. He stuck them soaking wet into his pocket. Later, he came to realize that His Mother must have figured out what he had done, while she was doing his laundry. But she never said a word. That was so like my Grandmother.
This was the same young man who was run over by a Model T at eighteen months, breaking a couple of ribs. The Doctor held him in his arms on the way to his office, thinking he wouldn’t make it in time. He did. Only to be run over again as a toddler while riding his tricycle underneath the belly of the beast, emerging with merely a few scratches.
So, forged out of devastation, missing an early departure, yearning for adventure, and hopeful in adversity; this man muscled his meager frame forward becoming a Pastor then partaking in entrepreneurship, via the media.
Yet this is my story.
But each of our stories thread into our predecessors and those who follow, not to mention those we meet along the way.
Mine followed a bulldog.
Not on his own. For that brother of his, the Peter Pan on the cliffs? He followed his dreams right into the foreign shores of WWII and a hero’s death on the battlefield. His Parents, my Grandparents touched my life personally during the years we lived together. Other family members, immediate and extended, each have stories of their own.
But this is where I came from. The cliffs of Elora, Ontario, Canada. No, not my home, but my Father’s.
And before? From the Scottish Ancestors. The Pennsylvania Dutch. New Jersey, (and ardent supporters of the American Revolution) and at the opposite end of the spectrum, a founding family of Hamilton, Ontario (who received a good verbal thrashing from George Washington for abandoning his army).
And my Mother’s side is a history of another kind. Equally enthralling. While many of my Father’s people were fleeing or supporting armies, my Mother’s were people of peace. People of the field. Mennonites. Emigrants of the Ukraine, Ellis Island, Kansas, eventually homesteading in Northern Alberta, required to farm uncooperative and stubborn gumbo mud.
Europe. The United States. Canada. The fighting Scots. Oliver Cromwell of England. Pacifists who believed Catherine the Great only to be let down by the Czar who followed and betrayed their good will…to have it happen again by good old Uncle Sam.
There are stories to tell. I may share some I remember of their stories passed down, or found through family member’s research. And I believe I will.
But most of my stories and poems are created in my imagination, heart and through a camera or paint brush. Emerging from ancient firesides and childhood parking lots. Watered by a Mother telling her little girl stories of the frozen prairies with her own worn childish doll from the olden days as a prop. “Tell me another, Mommy!”
So what do you see? Is it a painting or a memory? A photo or some dots of paint thrown on a canvas?
What is your story? Who are you? Are you aware of your emergence or do you feel your story began at birth?
Feel free to write a paragraph or two in the comments to share how you added up to yourself, at this point of your journey.
Whatever your story, I pray it will be ever upward, noble and brave. I pray your spirit will grow and develop into a canvas full of joy and love. And the story you pass on to those you meet send ripples of amazement and inspiration.
Be well my friends.