It's been weeks of emotional heavy lifting since losing Marguerite, realizing what she had left all of us, and then, two weeks ago, finding among her things a stack of handwritten note cards written by her mother, my great-grandmother. The cards seem to be preparation for writing a memoir--Nan noted she'd need 100,000 words--and are written in a fine, sometimes quite tiny, cursive, as though not quite giving herself permission to express what she was putting down on paper.
Because. There is death and despair, a murder, a suicide, and many tales of abuse and alcoholism. And also wonderfully frank observations of neighbors and lovely observations of nature--a pond, wildflowers, wagon rides.
It changes you, thinking about your relatives in this way. Staring at the black and white photographs from a hundred plus years ago, realizing that they are actual people and not quite the sainted relics we've imagined them to be. They loved and fought and hated and struggled and triumphed. My grandmother and great-grandmother are two of the strongest people I've ever known, and now, I'm realizing what all the hard times exerted and wrought on them, diamond-like.