When you love someone, you want to know everything about them. That someone, in this case, was my maternal grandmother. We shared a close bond, but there was a wrinkle on the face-map of her life that I could not trace. I wish I had asked her my questions while she was still with me.
Interviewing relatives would, I hoped, complete my connection to this woman I dearly loved, and terribly missed. But to find the remaining pieces, I did what writers do best—research in order to build a world.
So like the hummingbird that can fly backward, I went back in time to Grandma’s world.
Historical records, genealogies, news media archives, the library, and the internet supplied a wealth of factual information. But it was the literature of my grandmother’s generation that proved invaluable. These books transformed into photo albums before my eyes, showing me beginnings, goals accomplished and milestones reached: footprints on the path of life. Preserved intact on the pages of novels and poems were the tears, sorrows, dreams, humiliations, and losses of real people; experiences true to their time and place.
Stories, I realized, are essential to our lives. They preserve the knowledge of who we are. They alone have the power to travel unfettered bridging cultural gaps, producing empathy, and transforming strangers into friends. Stories too serve as mirrors. By them, we view and measure our growth and change, or lack thereof.
I started out seeking missing facts about my grandmother’s life. I found so much more: a living reminder of the hopes and sacrifices of my ancestors that paved the way for me to be born happy, healthy and free. Lives and experiences that I want to always remember and never forget.
May these novels and poems never pass away for my Granny lives enshrined therein forever.
See you next time on August 22nd.
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