Friday, July 30, 2010


There's something undeniably ominous and foreboding about seeing your mother's maiden name on a headstone. Unfeeling, grey slabs crisscross the green field, and American flags punctuate the smooth, engraved headstones. The dreary gray Pennsylvania sky makes the whole scene feel washed out, surreal. Fresh flowers are planted in front of the graves of my great-grandparents, and I wonder who is brave enough to traverse the empty graveyard and tend to them. Is it my grandfather, who sits in the driver's seat and talks about his parents, whose graves are but five feet from our front tires? "He came over here and fought in World War I when he was 18. She was born here. Her two older sisters were born in Italy, but she was born here."

We drive on. We pass the empty lot where his childhood home used to be, and my great-grandmother's old house, now inhabited by others. He talks about working in the coal mines as the lush green forest speeds by, disappearing behind us as we follow the gently winding road. We see where my mother went to high school, and he talks about how she and my aunt would walk through the woods on their way to school.

I dazedly realize that the past and the future were beginning to form an invisible seam, linking and looping two generations as time continues to pass. I am not the uniformed Catholic school girl gossipping contentedly on her way to school, but an average teenager who rides the public bus every morning. And yet, we intertwine: the same dark, heavy hair, the same brownish eyes, and the same silent, trembling, hysterical laughter, faces a deep red and eyes flush with joyous tears.

And here I was thinking history was boring.

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