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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-10-06 18:30
Subject: [personal] In a family way
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Music:the Child watching Road Runner cartoons
Tags:child, family, personal, portland
Today's writing time got derailed by an unusual event, to say the least. tillyjane called mid-morning and asked if we could be at her house in the early afternoon for lunch with one of her relatives whom I'd never met. the_child, lasirenadolce and I grabbed some sottocenere al tartuffo at Pastaworks and headed over for 12:30. Aunt Elaine and her grandson Eric (an adult few years younger than me) showed up shortly thereafter.

She is actually my maternal grandmother's cousin — they were both Salisburys. My maternal grandparents (the parents of tillyjane) both died quite young, before I was born, and I grew up with my father and stepmother, so my connection to the extended part of that side of the family (beyond tillyjane and her sisters) is tenuous at best.

Aunt Elaine, being my grandmother's cousin, is my first cousin twice removed, and the_child's first cousin three times removed. She's 88 years old, still drives herself around, and is as sharp as the proverbial tack. She told a lot of family stories and spoke with tillyjane about relatives I have barely heard of.

She and Eric were on a family journey. It had started some time back when the two of them had decided to go find Eric's long-lost brother. He was adopted by Elaine's daughter at the age of 5-1/2, and his older brother was adopted into a different family. They'd lost contact about 10 or 15 years ago. Elaine and Eric did some detective work, tracked down his brother, and eventually were able to reconnect. They'd set out on a road trip from her home in Altadena, CA to see the brother in southern Oregon, and decided as long as they were driving to visit relatives in the Bay Area, Corvallis, Olympia, Wenatchee and Helena.

As I said to tillyjane afterward, it's like a William Faulkner story, but without the grim Southern Gothic. Most of the family history has Kansas roots, but their journey of discovery is very western now. It was fascinating to see someone I didn't even realize was alive, and hear about the grandparents I never knew, along with many other relatives.

lasirenadolce, as is her wont, took a few pictures.

Me reading to the_child from the manuscript of the childrens' book Elaine wrote and illustrated. Elaine asked if I knew any children's lit agents.

tillyjane and Elaine in the dining room at tillyjane's house.

The two of them on the porch.

Elaine, tillyjane, the_child, Eric and me on the porch.

tillyjane, the_child and me on the porch.

As usual, more at the Flickr set.
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User: caryn71
Date: 2007-10-07 01:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What a cool story! Fabulous photos. Very heartwarming. I miss having family stuff like this. Thank you for sharing.
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dinogrl: infinity and beyond
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-10-07 05:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:infinity and beyond
Wow. Truly a journey in more ways than one. How cool.

And Jay, do you know any children's lit agents?????

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User: kmckiernan
Date: 2007-10-07 05:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow, Jay. I'm so glad all of you got to share in that experience. How wonderful! From lasirenadolce's fabulous pictures, I can tell you have a rich and diverse family. (smile)

Hey, have you heard about how some people are video recording their elders in order to capture key family legends before they are lost? Some prepare questions like, "tell me about your first kiss," or, "tell me about your first love," or, "tell me about the first meal your significant other prepared for you." Things like that. Anything to get them to start talking and launching into their stories. It is something I've wanted to do with my own parents and some of the older members of my community. Your post made me start pondering this again.

Anyway, you are a lucky man. Thanks for sharing this special event with us.
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