It all started out with a text from my sisters, showing me photos of both my mom and my dad when they were little – they have probably been around in a box somewhere for nearly 90 years, but I had never seen them before. This of course raised a couple of important questions for me. One, why did I never in all the years in our family even one time see the pictures? Where have they been hiding? Two, how did they then end up in the hands of my sisters as their property and legacy from our folks’ possessions? Three – not to be impolite – but where are the pictures that should belong to me? Yes, I know I have tons of things from our folks, and I can be satisfied with that… it’s just interesting, don’t you think, that entire categories of things, like photos, never seemed to make it to the sorting and divvying up pile. It’s natural to ask – what else might there be? Again, I’m not being greedy, but living the farthest from my folks’ home, I had the least chance to go through everything before it all went into the boxes that went to my siblings’ homes.
So, I took the diplomatic approach. Of course, that’s who I am – tact and diplomacy, right? Instead of demanding my share of the photographic inheritance, I decided to instead ask for copies of the photos. You see, I have been the custodian of the family history for a good 25 years now, and the photos might give another dimension to the work. Plus –I’d really like to see them, since I don’t even know what I haven’t seen or know, since it has been apparent secret agent stuff for nearly two years or so…
Along with diplomacy, I also know you have to have something to give in return, or else you are at the mercy of your sisters, which is never a good position to find yourself in. So, I pulled out of my “stuff” the knowledge of a photo I too have in possession. Our grannie (not grandma, or nana – grannie) died in 1984, and was to be buried in our ancestral home town of Logan, Iowa. All of us were dispersed around the US at that time, so Dad escorted the casket to Omaha, and I drove down from North Dakota, and we were going to get family from the area to attend a short graveside service. Since I was a pastor, I got the honors. Actually, the short graveside service kept expanding over the course of three days, and ended up a full-blown funeral. It’s always fun when that happens. And, instead of perhaps 10-15 people to be in attendance, it was closer to 75-100. After that, we went back to Omaha to my Aunt Donna’s home for the post-game show, or at least a family get together.
I found myself in a house that we used to visit all the time when we took trips from South Carolina to Omaha – Donna and Uncle Louie had more children than in our family, so it was always a fun crowd. This time, however, nearly 25 years had passed since the family get-together, and the little kids I played with were now, well, older… it took some imagination to recall exactly who they were. I think the strangest moment, however, was when I walked back into the kitchen, and there, sitting at the kitchen table, was Grannie, who we just had buried a couple of hours earlier. Actually, it was Rose – my dad’s oldest sister, whom I had never met before in my life. Rose had been born a few brief months after Grannie and Grandad were married before he shipped off to France in World War One, and it would be perhaps kind to say that she and Grannie never got along. Ever.
So, Rose went away to the West Coast, got married twice, and was a perpetual disappointment to Grannie for 65 years, probably because she was almost exactly like Grannie…
But there we were, in my Aunt Donna’s home, with Rose, Donna, my dad, and his little brother David. Rose was born in 1917, as I mentioned, and David was born in 1935. I believe – although it’s just family scuttlebutt – that Rose left home right about when David came along, and nearly 50 years later, it was probably the first time all four of them were together.
That afternoon, I took a picture of the four of them, not realizing of course, that it would be the only picture of those four siblings ever taken. It’s another reminder of how, if we aren’t careful and aware, could just about miss something that will never happen again. Dad died 9 years later. Rose died 7 years after that, and then Donna died 7 years after that, and finally Dave died about five years later. But I have in my possession the only picture, taken after they had buried their mother.
So, I shared that juicy piece of family information with my sisters, and so of course, they are eager to get a copy of it. Of course they are, and I’m happy to produce one for them after the copies of the photos they have come my way.
That was Saturday night. Yesterday, I decided I would get the picture out and look at it. Great idea. Can you tell me where the picture is, since you have probably as much a clue as I do as to the location! I checked the series of cluttered drawers that have served as the stashing spots for lots of things, some of great value, and others of questionable worth. No picture.
But you see, I believe I do know where it is. I have a large Rubbermaid bin that I have used to store family history “stuff” for a couple of decades. It makes sense – it’s dry, no bugs, and it’s safe. There are the two ancient family Bibles with the family births, marriages and deaths going back to the 1700s, as well as lots of documents, like deeds to properties long gone, and enlistment and discharge papers from many wars. It’s a great storage container, that I rarely need to look at.
That’s why it’s buried in the bottom of the corner of the over-cluttered closet in the office. I thought of calling the Egyptian Antiquities Commission to come and help dig it out. It has as much “stuff” on it as possible, I believe. Now, when I come face to face with this situation, I unfortunately channel my own dad’s personality, which is not good. I found myself mumbling things like, “Where did all this garbage come from?” “Maybe we should just throw it all out – no one is going to miss it!” It’s amazing how empty the room gets when that kind of mumbling starts to happen, just as we would vanish when Dad would want to “clean out” the garage… nothing good comes from it – only pain, and uncomfortable, should-have-left-two-minutes-earlier feelings.
So, while I am still trying to unkink the kink in my neck, I decided against emptying the closet yesterday. The photo will last for a while. But it is on my “This week” to-do list, under “find picture,” and “sort out closet.” I know I need to put the random stuff in bins of their own, but that means going to the store and buying some and all that mess…
Well, my sisters haven’t produced their photos yet, so I figure the process is going to go slowly anyway, so there it sits – I think, unless I happened to put it somewhere else, which I don’t think so, but it could be.
Living accidentally means that clutter invades one’s life, along with misplaced treasures and forgotten important pieces of life. Of course, on the other side, I’d rather not spend much time with persons who are so well organized that there is not longer any fun in the “hunt.” Keep the balance, because it is very easy to fill up a closet. And a garage. And a basement storage. And…
Word for the day: anginophobia. Pronounced an-jine-uh-FOE-be-yah. Of course, we know it’s a fear of something, hence the “phobia” part of it. We are also acquainted with the Greek angina-, but most often in terms of the medical use. An angina, medically speaking, is the narrowing of the blood supply to the heart, which causes a sense of choking or strangling, or even suffocating. I’m not sure there is anyone alive who would NOT be anginophobic, since that’s just not a very good thing to have happen.
However, there is another usage of the word. It’s that fear you get when you find yourself in a very narrow space, maybe even stuck with a bunch of other people, like the time when you take a tour of a cave, and have to go through the extremely narrow spot, so that your shoulders can hardly even go through. At that moment, especially if the light is dim or barely existent, you can begin to experience an external anginophobia, with heart beats and shortness of breath, and sweating and.. well, you know what I mean. Just give me the wide open prairie, please.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.