My sister, Juanita, visited this summer, as she always does, and we spent much time reminiscing, as we always do. More reminiscing goes on, it seems, as we get older.
One thing she said has really stayed with me. One of those warm June afternoons on the back porch, she commented, "You know, you are the only person left who has known me my entire life." Those words didn't really strike me as important until much later, when I seriously stopped to think what she meant.
Both our parents are gone, have been for many years. Grandparents on both sides, the same. I was the first born of three sisters. Juanita came along 3 years later, and Juanita was 11 years old when our sister, Nancy, was born. That's 11 years of being sisters that I shared that Nancy didn't. Aunts and uncles have passed away. Those few still living moved away decades ago, so you couldn't say they ever really "knew" us.
The Troy family poses for a group photo in their Long Beach, N.Y., home., which is under renovation courtesy of Donald Denihan, a stranger who wanted to help a family impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
I began to think about the things Juanita and I have shared in our 60+ years of life. That's quite a passage of time for two people, devoted sisters that we are. That's quite a past.
Not only was it events or things that happened to us, but it was how we felt, how we handled whatever was thrown at us. We might talk about a particular Christmas, and, without a doubt, we both remember some little thing that happened or was said that the other had forgotten.
I love history and all that it has left us. This has caused me to believe that, if you don't know where you've been, you don't know where you're going. Our personal past was shaped by the values, morals and standards that our parents set for us. These three things determined-and still do-the kind of persons we turned out to be. The past for Juanita and me was the same, and it, therefore, permanently bound us together. Our past was set on a sure footing, and that made our future secure. Without realizing it, day by day, our past made us who we are today.
And Juanita was saying that no one else could understand that but me. And she was right. But how sad that we now only have each other to share that with. And now the reality is that the past is catching up with us and, one of these days, will be gone forever for one of us. There will be no one else to share those memories.
And that brings on a fear of forgetting who we are. Our past assures us of our identity. It did happen. But, even when that one person we share it with is gone, I believe we still need to share who we are and where we came from.
After all, each of us is a little piece of history. I have no children to share that history with, but I hope Juanita has shared enough of our mutual experiences with her kids that they will know we had a pretty good past. And they can keep sharing that on down the line. And descendants will know that, way back there somewhere in the hills of West Virginia, is where it all started. All those values, morals, and standards had a good, solid beginning, which could mean that our past will have no end.