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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Audience? Readers?

I often forget about that aspect of blogging because I sit alone at my computer when the muse visits -- and write into it as though into a storage chest that will hold my memories until called up by my family years hence. Not so. Yesterday added an element that was both a pleasant surprise and that challenged my ability to continue to remain truthful and to honor candor and avoid the withholding of what's real for me.

Dorrie and I attended a family reunion at the beautiful Roberts Park high in the Oakland Hills. We sat among towering redwoods at picnic tables with members of Mel's family. I've retained a feeling of kinship with them despite the many years since our divorce and his death in 1987. Families are like that, I suppose. Since our relationship brought together two of the state's oldest resident families, it seems only right that we and our children remain steadfast members in good standing. Bob, David, Dorian, and I were all present and accounted at this, our second reunion in as many years.

Of the original Allen-Breaux-Turner-Galt unions, there have been four occasions when later generations combined lives through marriages. We're not only family members, but in many cases -- close friendships have been a continuing and valued renewing spark in our lives. I truly hope this continues far into the future across the generations.

There was talk yesterday of our coming together to recall and create a book on this black pioneer family of California's history. We bridge the period from the Civil War to the present in this state; a period in black history that has not yet been documented. We have the writers who can do that and the willingness to try.

Yesterday a young "cousin" (can't take the time to re-trace lineage on every meeting) approached me with a big proud grin to say how much she was enjoying this blog. She discovered it on an online visit to our family page (California Black Pioneers) when she followed the links that led here. She works at the university and told me that she's passed along the hyperlink to her co-workers who are also reading it. I was so touched by her pride, "...I tell them that's MY family!" And, "...you're saying all those things that I feel and can't quite express about life." She was gesturing with her arms and legs and voice and full body -- punching the air, and flailing her arms as she spoke." I was so struck by her pride in me, so touched by something down deep that we shared as two black women -- and that -- across the years we shared feelings about gender and race and what a moment that was! Her name is Robin, and I knew in that instance that this is an important thing to be doing now. And, that I'm writing my truth for more than for my own children. I sensed, again, that each of us -- in living our independent lives has a unique responsibility to chronicle as truthfully as we can -- where that life has taken us.

We are one-of-a-kind creatures, and each history is important to the whole. Each choice made, each outcome, is critical to the creation of a life and has significance to everyone and everything else that life touches. If the years have taught anything at all, it is that the intricate web of interdependence that holds all of life together is maybe one aspect of that thing that we've named "God." Last night just before falling off into sleep I remembered something I'd almost forgotten. It is that I've come to believe that there is really only one life and that we're all living it... .

I also remembered dimly that insights are less likely to arise in the expected places (cathedrals and cemetaries), than in those moments of surprise -- like this one when a faintly remembered 3 year-old, a beautiful brown-skinned Robin, appears in the shadow of regal redwoods -- fully adult and vibrant(!) -- to help to celebrate this shared lifetime.

Thanks, Robin.

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