This moment right now is the first time I have ever been alone in the house my father was born in, the first time ever I have had the run of it, on my own, with no layers of generations between me and it. My sister and her partner left yesterday to return to Brooklyn. Joe just left for what will probably be a four-hour adventure to ride the famous Col du Tourmalet if the road is clear of ice.
So it’s just me here at the kitchen table, wearing a Lowell High School sweatshirt of my father’s, grabbed as much for warmth as for yet another layer of family history to wrap around me, walking around inside it, wearing it, inside and out.
My son says this house is haunted. My aunt on my mother’s side asked if we’d seen the ghost who once came and sat on her bed when she visited.
I have felt no such thing. Since childhood, I have felt only happy here, embraced, held. No ghosts, just presence. Just generations of family on my father’s side – treasures tucked away in drawers, like my grandfather Pierre’s straight razors inside their carved wooden case, my grandmother’s worn religious medals, piles of photos of my aunt Pauline as a fresh-faced fashion plate in the 40s, my father as an adorable round-faced child. And us, too: my parents and sisters and me, from 1959 through the 90s, snapped or mailed here to keep in touch and kept, treasured.
So I’m surrounded by my grandparents, and my parents’ generation, and my own, sifting through family history, delighted at every turn.