Thursday, February 23, 2006
Last week my aunt sent me some more of my father's possessions, from Alaska. My father, who has Alzheimers, has moved here from Alaska to New York. My family originally lived in Michigan, moved to New Mexico, and finally to Alaska. Somehow my parents (and we kids) ended up farmers in New York.
In the latest shipment from my aunt was a watch that had been shown to me as a child. Every family has a few little legends, and this watch was one of ours. It belonged to a historical figure in New Mexico. I had no idea it would be in the box mailed to me.
What did I do? I got on the internet. And looked. And looked. And looked. And it appeared the "historical figure" did not exist. I found a reference or two, and then suddenly I must have punched in the right keywords, because I found a single history book that had not only a chapter on this historical figure, but my great aunt, who was a poet in New Mexico.
So I bought the book. It arrived today.
Turns out the watch-owner was a beloved and colorful fraud, who wasn't who he said he was, and his actual family may never have received any of his possessions after he died. And the chapter on my great aunt was very short, and full of "it is assumed" statements. And here I sit with all of her personal diaries from a hundred years ago.
The book was published in 2003, and I've been sitting with these diaries for over ten years. I feel like I've stolen a bright little chunk of New Mexico's history. How much longer would my aunt's chapter had been, had the historian had the diaries that she wrote her entire life?
So I need to talk to my sisters about what we have, and where it should go. This watch, especially. It doesn't belong to us, really.
Irony? Click to enlarge that photo and check out the watch fob. It's a beaded cat. Yes, a cat. There is also a dog below it.