Spent a lovely weekend at my dad's place. Did a little fishing, a little grilling, and a little just sitting and watching: watching the dogs (our 2, plus my brother's 2, plus my dad's 1), watching the hummingbirds at the feeder (surprisingly aggressive, chatty things), watching my 65-year-old father trying to get a wireless network functioning, watching my 13-year-old half-sister change from a cute, dreamy little kid into a startlingly beautiful, startlingly bright, er, woman, I guess.
About a month ago, Dad and brother made a trip out East to see Uncle Crabby Weirdo and to recover some materials for the family archive from the Ancestral Home in eastern PA. I would have liked to go, but work kept me at home. Fortunately, they returned with tales of Uncle Crabby Weirdo's scary house crammed full of crap and his diet of frozen pizza and microwaveable "entrees." The real jackpot, though, was the cache of old letters sent from my grandma to my grandpa on board various cargo ships at exotic ports of call (Port Said, the Canal Zone, Jakarta, Karachi, etc.) and the telegrams and letters from him to her, first to Miss S.R. on Adelphia Street in Brooklyn, then to Mrs. G.S. at the Ancestral Home.
The letters and telegrams filled a large duffle bag purchased especially for the purpose of bringing them home. We sat around reading excerpts from letters, from V-Grams sent during WWII, from Western Union telegrams, just scraping the surface but finding little jewels--in my grandma's functional, legible script, and in my grandpa's indecipherable but gorgeous fountain-pen scratchings--that hinted at some great stories. Confirmation that Uncle Crabby Weirdo was conceived out of wedlock. Grandpa insisting that he loved her and would have married her even if she wasn't pregnant. Grandma's chuckling account of my dad's insistence at age 2 on running around the neighborhood naked from the waist down. Grandpa's fear that he would never amount to anything, his longing to be home with his family. Everyone agonizing over money and the war. Good Lord, discussion of birth control and some startlingly raunchy bits of postal erotica, which someone had tried in vain to obscure with ink scribbles.
The photos were icing on the cake: rowing a wooden boat at Harvey's Lake, kids displaying little bitty fishes, picnics, gathering huckleberries, presents under the Xmas tree, and some cheesecake shots of grandma topless on a beach.
"Grandma topless." Just try saying that out loud; it won't come out, will it?