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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Timeless Tuesday: When We Were Vikings

Circa 2001

Somehow in one or another of our moves, we lost the viking helmet. It's too bad. The viking helmet was very cool (you tell it was cool because of the yellow shades we were forced to wear). We still have the sword that went with it.

I was talking with munchkin boy the other day. "You remember the viking helmet," I said. "It's probably still in the dress up box."

No, he had absolutely no memory of the viking helmet. And it's too bad, because he is the kid who would most have appreciated the viking helmet (and it got a lot of mileage from the girls). So I found these pictures and it became immediately apparent why he had no memory. He was just a little guy. Turns out my middle munchkin doesn't have much memory of it either.

This is the gap between my kids and I.

I remember things like moving to Topeka for their dad to go to law school, living in Dodge City, and getting through my mom's illness like it was yesterday. To them, I am full of stories from pre-time.

"This blanket you are so fond of," I was telling my son as we did laundry last weekend. "This belonged to your Grandpa Sam."

He thought that was pretty cool. "Who is Grandpa Sam again?" he asked.

My grandpa. His great grandpa. We climbed up and down the family tree and I recalled how the blanket got into Grandpa Sam's hands (a gift from the hubby and I shortly after we were married) and how it was returned to us (one of the first items I selected to take home with me after Grandpa died).

My son's way of putting everything into perspective is to figure how old a person would be. Grandpa Sam, if I am figuring correctly, would have turned 100 this year. Now this blanket my son is so fond of has gained even more special significance -- it once belonged to a hundred year old man!

My son has his grandfather's and my grandfather's eyes (and ears). He looks an awful lot like his dad, however, and I am reminded of my brothers, as well. In that respect, I suppose we are all just conglomerations of the people who have come before us, and the stories that came before us are also the threads that pull it all together. Our past. Our present. Our future.

Last year I was riding in the car with my sister, the back seat full of daughters and nieces. We were carrying on with our conversation and they were carrying on with theirs.

"Shh..." I heard from the back seat. "They're talking about Grandma." And suddenly the back seat was entirely silent as the nieces strained forward against their seatbelts to listen to the tales my sister and I were repeating.

It's hard for me to imagine a world where my mother was not a driving force and my grandfather was not that always present man in the pinstripe blue overalls. Yet that's the world my children live in. I look around and try to imagine the people in our lives, right now, who will become the memories and stories they tell their own children. Even their perspectives on my constants will be so different, as they never knew my sister as the 19-year-old girl who was headed off to college or my long-haired brother who lifted weights and walked on stilts in the yard. For them, she starts as Aunt Diane, and he starts as Barry Builder.

Where we start in each other's lives holds a lot of significance, but it's where we stop that really counts. And if we're lucky, we never will. We'll always be somebody's memory, a tale being told on a long stretch of Kansas highway or that really old person who once owned some kid's favorite blanket.


cheryl said...

Wow - great piece of writing, Tracy. Especially that last paragraph - especially that last sentence!

Sandra Dodd said...

We used to have a viking helmet like that. I thought I'd find you one, but they're sold out: If you google you'll see others. I know it wouldn't be the same, but still...

We bought Kirby another Ninja Turtle sword for his 18th birthday, because he had worn out the one he had when he was little. His dad made a rack for it.

Derek D. Simmons said...

I remember searching for that helmet to send to you. We looked at a Nordic festival in a town near Eugene, but we were stymied by historical accuracy--they were mostly selling Viking helms with one horn. Damn the inaccuracies; I demanded two horns. And eventually we found them.