Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In time for my sister's birthday!!!



Family stories are easily lost, especially in these times when children leave home and move far and wide from the place where it all began. Family reunions are times when the old stories may be repeated, but the young ones often don’t listen. Some stories are never retold because of embarrassment or feelings of shame, and the failure to recognize that regardless of how dour our circumstances may have been, that was where we came from. Even our mixed heritage should be a source of our strength.

My siblings and I often heard the stories of our grandmother, Mattie. My sister LaVerne, as the oldest had the foresight to write down the story as told by our Mother before she died in 1958. LaVerne gave us all a typed copy that in my case was read and filed in a drawer of assorted family documents.

LaVerne went further in writing her own story of growing up as the first child of Robert and Georgia Gordon. She worked on it nearly fifty years as she remembered bits and pieces of all the places they lived and the churches Daddy served in his ministry through Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, and Virginia.

As the years passed, LaVerne developed decreasing patience with her computer, and declining memory of the names of people and places, until I took it upon myself to intervene. I hijacked her manuscript with the intention of crafting it into a story to be passed on to our progeny.

I found, however, the story needed no crafting, but it was missing the ending; I hadn’t been born yet. I called on my brothers to fill in the gaps to get us to Petersburg where I was born. Their tales of growing up as four brothers who followed their big sister, tales of adventure and mischief, were their story, not LaVerne’s. I wanted to keep LaVerne’s voice. No one else could have told of the “halcyon period” of our parents. No one else could express Mother’s motives for marrying “that yellow man.”

And so begins the Saga of the Gordons of Tallahassee.


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