I didn’t post last week because I spent last Thursday on the road, doing the approximately ten hour drive required to get from home to the Okanagan. Because, last Saturday, there was a party to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. And because it’s been nearly two years since I was last able to see most of that side of my family. Fortunately, the wildfires plaguing British Columbia this year weren’t an issue along the route we took.
Being down there, seeing family I haven’t seen in a while, learning things I never knew about my family’s history, visiting with family and old family friends… I wish I had more opportunity than it feels like I have now. I hate living so far away from them. Most of them don’t text or Skype. Telephone is hard for me, for several reasons. If we could see any clear way to do so, we would happily move closer to them.
When I was growing up, family and family history were all around me. Vacations were used to visit relatives and attend family reunions. Family stories were brought up all the time. I wish I could remember more of the stories I have heard. I wish I could’ve heard more from the people these things happened to. I’ve lost four of the six grandparents I knew as a child. The other two are into their 80s and not in the best of health, which was partly why the summer celebration of an anniversary which actually falls between Christmas and New Years.
Heritage is such a huge part of personal identity. Family and family history often serve as a tether… a place to go back to when life gets too overwhelming. It’s what we build on, whether better or worse, when we create our own lives and stories. It influences our perception of ourselves. It influences how we relate to all kinds of aspects of our lives.
I watch my daughter grow and learn and I wonder what she’s learning about the meaning and history of family. She’s grown up surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles (biological and named) and she’s hearing some of the stories, whether she understands them now or not. I think about what I would like her to learn, how to pass values to her, what she will think of it all once she’s old enough to seriously consider what she thinks of it all.
How do I tell my daughter what my life has been like and how it influences the way I’m raising her?
How do I tell my daughter all the things I would like her to know about family and life and her options for the future?
What will my legacy to my daughter be?
For nearly a week now, we’ve had heavy smoke in the air. There are fires to the east, south, and west of where I live. The province has declared a state of emergency as multiple towns are evacuated and thousands of people displaced. While smoky air makes for spectacularly colourful sunsets, it isn’t good for anything else. Certainly not for air quality and anyone who has breathing trouble.
I can’t imagine having to leave my home and know it might not be there when I get back. People are losing their homes… I’ve seen news footage of what appears to be an entire community burnt to the ground. They’re out of work, staying in temporary shelters of all kinds, dependent on the charity of others as they wait to hear when they can go back and see what’s left of their lives.
On the flip side, all kinds of people and organizations are stepping up to help. To work in the fire zones, trying to contain and extinguish the fires. To offer assistance to those in need of it. To open their homes to strangers in need of a place to stay. To gather resources to help rebuild what has been burnt to the ground. I love how situations like this bring out a kinder side of humanity.
I have extended family who live in the affected area. Some of them I’ve seen Facebook posts from and know the people, at least, are okay. Some I haven’t seen anything from and can’t help being concerned for. Undoubtedly there’s someone in the family who has heard, but I’m often out of the loop on family news (on that side especially) unless it crosses my Facebook feed.
Although the last couple days have been overcast, with just a touch of rain, the whole province desperately needs a few days of steady rain. Lightning is one of the major causes of wildfires and not something we need right now. A steady downpour would be much more helpful. (And to think only a couple months ago some of these communities were struggling with flooding and too much water.)
And I have one very selfish reason for wanting these fires out and the highways reopened. I want to make it to the party for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary, which is going to mean either travel through what are currently fire zones or a long detour around on roads I’m not nearly as familiar with.
I dread putting anything out where other people can see/read/react to it. I really do.
I know there are a million thoughts and opinions on the subject out there. People’s experiences. Ways to get over it. Ways to work around it.
None of that makes it any easier for me. And, if I let myself stop and think about it, it’s exhausting.
And yet I keep trying to work on my business. I keep coming back to this blog. I keep putting things out there. I probably always will.