A memorable quote from Anne Carlson Kennedy on the death of her own grandfather:
It’s only when you grow up and start trying to assemble bits of information together about the people who have put you in the car, and taken you out again, and lifted you up onto a stack of books on a chair, and taken you round the garden that you begin to discover that they are people too, that they have a whole life of success and disappointment, of hope and despair, just as you yourself do. But then death comes along and you can only go sifting back through the few photos that don’t get lost in all the moving. Reconciling your own sense of who they are and their own vast histories I guess is how you are meant to spend the rest of your own life.
That, in a sense, was the genesis of this site (and to some extent of this one.) It’s obvious that things have gotten a little off track. Mine was a family where there were many “narratives” but often the facts were obscure. It’s been a voyage of discovery. My father never liked this kind of investigation because those in the past were “no longer here to defend themselves.” But in reality I discovered that that legacy they really left behind (or what I could put together) was their defence, and an interesting one at that.
But ultimately what we leave behind is our defence, assuming it doesn’t get buried in someone’s “narrative.” That’s something we should think about, or perhaps should have thought about a long time ago.