Thursday, July 9, 2009

Aunt Sarah Project

I've written about Aunt Sarah (also known as "Caroline" a time or two before.

She traveled all over, teaching classes on linguistics, giving college devotions and learning languages, sometimes even creating a written language where none existed.

Recently, I came into possession of a box of letters that she wrote to her family along her journeys. Painstakingly saved by her mother and tied up with ribbon, the letters chronicle years of Aunt Sarah's life and travels all over the world. The idea behind this "project" is to put some order to this great jumble of words, to chronologically map out her voyages.

It's been a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I find myself mesmerized by her stories. What started out as little more than a genealogy side project has become something else altogether.

A kind of obsession. A kind of feeling like I know someone I've never met. Like maybe I'm with her as she talks to people in strange languages and with different customs than what I'm used to.

Sitting with her next to a fire, seeing her smoking a cigar and watching a sunset, pen in hand, waiting to describe it to her mother in a letter.

Riding with her over bumpy, potholed streets in places where yours is the only car. Everybody else walks. Later, the car will leave and she'll walk, too.

She laughs at the antics of the children who come to entertain her, showing off, doing cartwheels and trying to outdo each other, vying for her attention.

She wracks her brain for words when writing to her supporters, trying to sound dignified and yet still trying to raise awareness of the plights of some of the people she works with.

She's amazed by God's Creation.

She misses her family.

She's ravaged by cancer, but still determined to serve.

She speaks to at chapel services, too weak to stand but still beautifully eloquent in her love for God.

I don't know her but I love her all the same.

4 comments:

Granny on the Web said...

Looks like you have an absorbing task on your hands there Sarah.
Lots of history tied up with ribbon.

Love Granny

Eddie Bluelights said...

I can understand how interesting and compulsive this reading is - I've done a lot of family tree research and it is addictive finding out about one's ancestors. I wish I'd asked older relatives some detailed questions when they were alive - then there would not be the 'dead ends' I have today.
Nice to 'speak' again ~ Eddie

Janet said...

How wonderful that you have those letters. I did something similar with my grandfather's life story. It was hard but worth every single minute.

Snowbrush said...

Wow, such luck you had finding this treasure!