Yesterday, my maternal grandparents sat side by side on the couch and softly sang a Christmas carol in long-wedded unison. My bachelor uncle, a lone wolf, an independent with incredible stories and great life advice, recounted the story of riding on the top of a boxcar looking for work and laughed at his youthful folly. My paternal grandmother chuckled at the mention of playing another board game and leaped to her feet to be the first one to the table.
That's how I remember them, at least how I remembered them yesterday. They're all long gone now but, whether we realize it or not, the memories they left shaped those of us left in one way or another.
You can see the past in each one of us left. A mannerism similar to a great grandparent. An eye color that isn't like anyone else in the family - except - anyone remember great Aunt Mable? You get it. We're not as unique as we'd like to think and not just genetically. It's not just about relatives gone, it's all those that have crossed our paths or even some that haven't. It's all been done before by those that came before. And maybe the past isn't as quiet as we'd like to think.
I know it's not so quiet when I write. When I'm searching for that illusive emotion, the moment when the questions arise.
How is the character affected?
What are they feeling?
How will they react?
And when there's nothing in my experience to grab, one of those voices from the past speaks up and says, "Remember when..."
Because it's all been done before; the bad, the good and the just plain ugly.
But does the past blend with the present or is it a collision of wills?