Friday, May 18, 2012

tales from a sepia-toned childhood

David Campbell and Hudson Roberts (My grandson and my brother Geoff’s grandson)
y immediate Maul family may not be very extensive in terms of numbers (there are 12 of us now that my brother is gone), but we’re scattered far and wide geographically thanks to the continuing adventures of Andrew and Naomi.
Consequently, when we do make it back together there’s a lot of picture-taking, and story telling, and looking at family photographs from times gone by.
My niece Hannah was leafing through old family albums featuring her dad when she came across a black and white  image taken when my brother Geoff was three and I was one. She remarked how much her son, Hudson, looked like his “pop-pop,” and how much fun it would be to try and replicate the picture now I had a grandson too.
Derek and Geoff Maul, circa 1957
LESSONS: So Naomi and Hannah balanced David (six-months) next to Hudson (four-years), gave him a toy phone and did their best to create another iconic image. The result wasn’t quite as envisioned, but the exercise did bring some very important things to mind.
  1. There’s nothing like family. I’m so thankful for the love that we share.
  2. Children literally absorb the love they’re exposed to in a family that is deliberate about cultivating positive relationships. It’s a fact – my grandson is already healthier emotionally – and will be – because he is so completely (and extensively) loved.
  3. Learning the stories of the past is a key element in embracing the future.
  4. Family stories told properly are not about nostalgia… they are about affirming the rich layers of history that help define the experience of family. Nostalgia points backwards, whereas the celebration of heritage moves forward, toward a future rooted in shared experiences.
  5. We simply MUST work hard to keep our small family connected. I want all my mum and dad’s great-grandchildren (there are three now and who knows how many in the future!) to be good friends one day, and to celebrate family together.
Derek and Geoff – Our last picture together – March 8
CONSTANT CHANGE: Family is an organic phenomenon. Eight months ago David Henry was not yet born. Ten weeks ago my brother Geoff was still alive. This time next year? Who knows? The family may have grown from twelve to even more. Life is defined by change. If there was no change then there would be no life.
And so, in the middle of new life, death, new love, birth and more, telling one another the iconic stories of history helps to root our family in the constant of shared memory.
One day, I want my grandson David to tell his children about his great-uncle, and how Geoff shared a sepia-toned childhood with grandaddy Derek. David may never remember meeting Geoff, but the memories will be real because they are a part of who David already is, and a part of who he is becoming.
More stories for David
STORY OF FAITH: Family is a collective consciousness. Ours is also a collective story of faith….
Which reminds me, when he’s old enough I need to make sure that David learns to remember my grandparents, Fred, Connie, Lilly and Arthur. There’s this story from right after WWI when his great-great grandfather wanted to go to Africa as a missionary… And the one where another great-great followed his 8-year-old to the train station when she ran away from home to “Tell Mr. Hitler to bomb (her parents)”… Then there’s the late 1800′s, when one of David great-great-greats was floating up the Yangtze River….

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