Friday, May 30, 2008

Thanks, Brother-of-mine

When I was 48, I had a revelation. It came about when I watched the interaction between my ten-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old brother. One day, as she tried to get this laid-back, happy-go-lucky boy to march to the beat she was insistently drumming, I realized this was a mirror of my childhood relationship with my brother. The one difference was that I was the younger sibling.

The next time my brother came to visit, I shared this with him. “I didn’t realize,” I confessed, “how I used to try to run your life.” His reply? “What do you mean, used to?”

Having a revelation and changing one’s ways are two different things. I haven’t quit trying to run his life, I am just aware that I’m doing it. All this makes it no surprise that, when I first hatched the idea for a family history blog, I gave the assignment to my brother. “Put up a blog,” I commanded.

After a minimum of dissent, he capitulated, and one day I got an email notice to contribute to Ronnie and Tootie Remember.

I still go by that ridiculous nickname to family and close friends, but I haven’t spelled it that way for over 25 years. When I was about forty, I decided that, as a future senior citizen, the name Tootie wouldn’t go with gray hair and brittle bones, so I changed the spelling to Tudy. Like Judy, but with a T. If I had set up the blog, I would have named it something different, but I hadn’t delegated with the caveat that I get to name the blog, so the name he gave it stands.

All that aside, after receiving the notice that the blog was up, I checked it often, and each time, I’d find a nugget of family history: an old family picture with a short narrative of what my brother remembered about it. Some of the things he got wrong, but with the comment function, I was able to make corrections or add another perspective. I got my scanner up and going so I could contribute, too.

The pictures we’ve posted on the blog are ones from mother’s picture trunk. She was always going to write who, what, when, and where on the back of each so they wouldn’t tumble into anonymity after she was gone. Even though she had a long notice of her impending death, she never got around to it. I was determined not to let that happen again; hence my order to my brother: make a blog so we can get this done. In saluting and doing so, he has done a profound service to the whole family.

Thanks, Ron. Your kids and mine may not visit very often, but because of you, it’s there for when their hearts start to turn to family history.

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