Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Than Just A Family Story

The kids had Fall break over the weekend (5 days off in a row!), so we got to go visit my family in St. Louis. My grandma has had a rough year and recently moved into my folks' house. It was really nice for my family to get to spend some real time with her, since we have rarely been able to make visits across the country to visit her in California. Before I went to bed (super late on that last night in town), my mom got out a little album that they put together of family snapshots.

You know how there are some stories that you hear about growing up, but you really can't grasp the true horror of it until you have lived life a little? We revisited one of the tragic stories of our family history as we went through the album and as I was telling Jeremy about it later, the depth of anguish I felt over this story surprised even me. Here it is:

As we were going through the photos, there was one of this beautiful, goofy, adorable little girl with short, tousled, blond hair, and the typical knock-knees and giant teeth of a pre-teen, holding a lit-up birthday cake and grinning ear-to-ear. My aunt Nancy. It was her eighth birthday.

When my mother was very small, and my uncle was an infant, the family was involved in a terrible car wreck. In this wreck, my grandma's pelvis was crushed and she was told that she would never walk again. My aunt Nancy was thrown from the car and died on impact (this was in the early 60s when seatbelts weren't even installed in every car). My grampa, who has always struggled with depression couldn't care for the entire family, so the oldest three children stayed home while my mom and uncle Mark, who were babies at the time, had to be cared for by separate friends and family members until my grandparents could get things back under control in their lives. The oldest child, my aunt Debi cared for the home and the other two siblings, while still going to school and maintaining her grades. At the age of 12. This one event set them back for years as people and as a family. The accident happened two months to the day after the photo was snapped of Nancy's 8th birthday.

Grampa and Gramma made it through the tragedy. My Gramma walks. Nancy is a well-used family name, in honor of the aunt/sister/daughter that everyone loved and missed. It has occurred to me that on Tuesday, my son Daniel will be the exact same age as my aunt Nancy was when she passed away. And I now dream of the beautiful little girl frozen in time, waiting in The Father's arms for the rest of her family to join her in their own times.