Updated: Aug 29, 2022
In her later years, my mother began our telephone conversations with a weather update. "Are you okay?" she'd start. "Yes mom, why?" I already knew the answer: she'd called to advise me of the tornado over Tulsa and to remind me to stock up on candles, fresh water, and canned soup. When we were children, our home in Dallas had a fallout shelter in the back yard and at the first scent of metal in the skies, we'd scamper across the wet grass, bedclothes under arm to sit in the damp darkness of the concrete bunker and listen to the wind howl overhead.
The skies today are gray with a low-hanging fog lying heavy on the lake. A pile of research notes, journals and several wads of first drafted letters to the Board for Correction of Naval Records crowds my keyboard. I'm not sure how to finish the drafts. And not ready to turn my back on them either.
Sometimes my research takes me in directions I'd not expected. For all of the sunny day discoveries I've made, there have also been gray days. Generational grandparents, uncles, and cousins who were slave owners. Some who fought honorably in wars; some who did not. Some who worked hard to support their families and communities, and some who turned their backs on life. I can't undo those events, but I can pick through the scattered pieces of their lives and shed light on their contributions, their successes, and marvel at our ability to endure.