“Here’s to the hearts and the hands of the men [and women] who come with the dust, and are gone with the wind.” – Bob Dylan
Our jaunt out of Appalachia took us down into the lowlands of South Georgia, through heat and haze, catapulting us through time–from spring to summer, from the worried present to the storied past. We landed in Thomasville, where my 95 year young Aunt Lorraine resides amid the myriad experiences and visions of nearly a century of life, death, hope and despair, the stuff of generations and heroic epics.
In her hallway hangs a bulletin board depicting the jumbled history of the Redifer clan–the ghosts of great grandparents, and even greater mothers and fathers before, who stretched their restless arm and weary feet across a nation, following the rail lines and wagon trails to the frontier’s horizon, leaving what they surely thought an indelible mark upon all they passed by, wondering where those endless miles stretched into the heart of this roiling continent.
The spectres of loves and lives lived, of families sprung from sod houses; the reminders of great wars fought by mere children from the West Coast to the ancient countries across an ocean; the faraway eyes of the babes gone too soon from theiir mother’s laps, the mothers themselves–and here they all are: in the mother’s lap of eternity, pressed into ink and tacked to corkwood.
As Robin Williams’ character once told his students in Dead Poets’ Society:
“Listen to those men in the photos, boys. What are they saying? Can you hear it?”
Carpe Diem. Origin stories. Staring at this great display of my heritage, I was awestruck and intimidated. Who are these persons, the building blocks of my legacy? What kinds of lives did they live? What were their dreams and failings?
There’s something hidden in the answers to all that. Something vital to my own search. Even if its only more questions.