Monday, January 21, 2008

Stand Up Straight for the Ancestors

A couple of months ago, I expressed doubt about the possibility of ancestral messages.

The other day, though, as I walked to work on a brilliantly sunny 25-degree day I was breathing in the fresh air meditatively, enjoying the way my backpack felt bumping slightly against my back. Suddenly I heard my mother's voice distinctly say, "Stand up straight, Janice." I immediately pushed back my shoulders and sucked in my stomach, and as I did I visualized my mother smiling at me. I experienced a moment of piercing love, remembering my mother's many simple and not so simple acts of trying to shape me into a decent, healthy woman. She noticed me, she worried about me, she wanted me to stand up straight. She's been dead, by the way, for 14 years.

It got me thinking. My mother Carol's voice in my head as I strolled along on a winter's day is a kind of immortality. I wonder if her mother told her to stand up straight, and if she sometimes heard her mother's voice and pictured her mother giving her advice long after my grandmother was gone. And if so, could my grandmother Amy have experienced a similar voice from her mother Matilda, and likewise Matilda from her mother Mary Ann, my great great grandmother? Maybe that is how some things get passed along through hundreds of generations.

There's no way of knowing, of course, but it makes me newly open to the idea that some of my thoughts could be the same thoughts that my great-great grandmother had, and that they've landed in me through one patient and loving mother after another. I wonder what else is there. I'm suddenly fond of all those generations of women tending to their children, doing their best to make sure the kids remembered something, anything that would help them be safe in the world and live good lives.

1 comment:

fengirl said...

This resonated with me. I like to think that things are passed down to us. Enjoyed reading your blog.