(not really adoption related)
Dad was a storyteller. He loved telling stories about his relatives, his dad, other people, things that had happened that he found interesting. All told with his slowly spoken words that highlighted his dry wit, they also included tiny little interesting tidbits woven in. I never stopped and wondered where his gift of storytelling came from, until I began going through grandpa’s last journal, an odd collection of deep thoughts, ramblings, intermixed with stories of yesteryear, and poems, then it became obvious that dad got his gift of storytelling from his dad.
I have few memories of grandpa as he passed when I was a little one, I treasure his journal though, it paints a picture of a man who was born in the 1870’s who earned his living the hard way, being a lumberjack back when it was done with two-sided axes and cross-cut saws, farming, even looking for gold, going wherever work was to be had…and…someone who held an opinion on everything, and wrote about whatever took his fancy. A snippet below out of one of his stories to give you an idea of how he told stories, this is one paragraph in a story about a much-loved horse named Dolly who’d passed away…and one of the children in the story would have been dad, and he too told a story about a horse which was probably Dolly…
“We now pause a brief moment for identification. Time of birth lacking: also front and wisdom teeth; slight to mostly bow-legged; a shiny bay coat, two shining blue eyes which denoted intelligence and kindness, a sway back which very much resembled a new moon with its points turned upward to retard the harvest rains. She showed a devoted affection for children and at the end of Sabbath services; which often were held in our home; and the children had partaken of their midday repast they would proceed to the barnyard, give a shrill whistle whistle; up would come Dolly and after receiving a couple of sugar cubes or a ripe apple would slide up to the old rail fence to make it easy mounting, and when lined up and down her spinal column, like a flock of turtle doves on a hickory limb their tour of the country side would begin, and if they could coax her into a gentle gallop it was much like being rocked in the cradle of the deep. But now she has left us in sorrow here to mourn.”
Some of Grandpa’s writing though, causes a dilemma for me, at times in his ramblings he includes words that today wouldn’t be used, and that, makes me uncomfortable. At the same time, from what I read, he was outspokenly supportive of Native Americans rights over that of the white man (in one case he used Indian which to me is okay, but in a different context further down describing what the white race had done he used the r word, hence my being uncomfortable). So, I’m throwing it out here for discussion. Is it okay in the context of the time it was written, and the era and history he was writing about appears to be why he used it, should I let go of the uncomfortable feeling, and enjoy it as a glimpse into the man he was, or live with the uncomfortable feelings, and still enjoy his rambling style of writing, or what? Second part, how does the intent vs. impact play into this when it is historical writing. How do we, or should we, deal with historical writing?
What would you do if you were me, because I’m sure I’m not the first person to have these questions and feelings?