This weekend I went to Massachusetts for my mother’s birthday. For her gift this year I restored a photo of her father and then photo-shopped myself into it. I’d worked long hours on the picture knowing she would enjoy this otherworldly reunion of two of her favorite people.
A strong current pulls me to my family in good times and in bad. And when my daughter died, it was comforting to think about her wrapped in the embraces of my long gone grandparents. Maybe that’s related to whatever compels me to add my own image to photographs of my lost loved ones.
I know little about my grandfather. He was a cabinet-maker in Brooklyn during the depression. I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t left Poland as a young man looking to find a better life.
I have his nose.
If I could sit with him today in a quiet place by the water, I would ask him to tell me the story of his only son, the son he lost.
My mother and sister and I stayed up late last night, huddled over the computer, searching for some record of my grandfather’s life or death. As we discovered hints of him online, we grew more and more excited. It was like reaching out into time and space to touch him.
This morning I am traveling back to the sweet house in Ithaca where I talk to my dog and hear mostly myself. I am Going Home. But Coming Home means coming back to my family. The ones I love. Wherever they are.