Scraps of memories stitched over time by many hands. Different pieces sewn together to create patterns of lives. Our families are like quilts. Through the intricate details, our stories are told. As the work is passed on from old hands to new, the story changes. As colors and materials are added, the quilt becomes more complex and while some patterns remain the same, others may be become scarce or completely disappear. Families grow larger one piece at a time. The pieces that touch each other reveal a pattern, but as more pieces are added, the patterns change.
I come from a large Italian-American family. Before we were Italian-Americans, we were Italians. Before that we came from places like Spain and Turkey, Northern Africa and the mid-eastern nations of Asia. With us, along the way, we took our DNA and wove it into others’. Our grandparents came to America where their children and grandchildren have sewn their lives to other families from a multitude of lands, each with their own traditions. And yet the siblings of our grandparents may have chosen to stay in Italy or to travel to places like South America creating their own unique patterns. Although our family expanded and took on different appearances, we are still all one quilt. We all can look back and see that none of us would be here without those patches of material that came before us. No matter how we may change, our quilt, our family, our story, would not exist without our common beginning.
For a year now, I have been planning a family reunion that will take place in just a few of days. It is beyond my immediate family, it is beyond the family of my parents or grandparents or even my great-grandparents. There will be cousins there who are my cousins because our grandparents’ grandparents’ grandparents were the same people. This can take place in a land half way around the world from whence they came because of modern technology. Through our searching, we have found each other and in doing so, we have helped each other look back over the quilt of our families and discover the stories that it tells.
Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will continue the story without us. But perhaps, together we can pass along the stories in a new way. Stories are as old as time. Songs have been sung to pass along memories of the old. Paintings and carvings have been left on walls to tell our history. Now we have family trees, diagrams of names stretching back over the years connecting each generation to the one before. I enjoy collecting the stories and piecing the puzzles together and hope that if enough of us know the stories, then they will continue on for the generations to come.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy