STRANGERS IN THE BOX
Come, look with me inside this drawer,
In this box I've often seen,
At the pictures, black and white,
Faces proud, still, and serene.
I wish I knew the people,
These strangers in the box,
Their names and all their memories,
Are lost among my socks.
I wonder what their lives were like,
How did they spend their days?
What about their special times?
I'll never know their ways.
If only someone had taken time,
To tell, who, what, where, and when,
These faces of my heritage,
Would come to life again.
Could this become the fate,
Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories,
Someday to be passed away?
Take time to save your stories,
Seize the opportunity when it knocks,
Or someday you and yours,
Could be strangers in the box.
Author: Pam Harazim
About three decades ago I was taking a six-week writing class. My first assignment was to write a story that involved all the senses. While sitting at the kitchen table, a thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance, but I gave it no never mind because I thought sure it was following the river. As I sat thinking about the story I would write, without thinking, I was listening to the storm that seemed to be drawing near. Amid the sound of thunder and crackle of lightning, I found myself counting . . . "Okay, five seconds . . . it's time to take cover." I quickly looked out the window . . . it was the dreaded "white rain." The tall pine trees were bending, swaying, and there were waves forming on the lake.
I immediately gathered an old tattered shoebox with old photos that I had kept after the passing of my father and walked downstairs to take cover. I was always uneasy about looking inside the box. As I slowly took the lid off the box, the first photo atop was a portrait of a beautiful young woman, my mother. As I looked at each photo, I was all of a sudden conscious that I had no idea who the strangers were in the snapshots. For no apparent reason, I began separating them into stacks, and I found the largest stack was of the strangers. I was told that the one photo beneath my mother's was my grandmother, and I did not know her name. I began to think back to my childhood and ask questions, such as, "Who are my maternal grandparents"? My mother's family was always a mystery since she was from another state and taken from us at a young age.
By then, the storm had passed and that is when it all began for me . . . the genealogical questions. I had been bitten by the bug. As for my writing assignment, it was about that particular day and my quest of my mother's lineage. I later wrote a memoir about my mother and my maternal ancestors. It is funny about the turn of events . . . it's all about timing . . . His timing.
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