Understanding herself is not a battle Pauline saw as worth waging. She has relegated her past to hidden places. What an extraordinary feat it might have been for her to reach and find her causes. Sioma relished the past nostalgically, but not as a means to anything unless it was grudges.
I have often said that I need to understand my grandparents in order to understand my father and my aunt. Who were these people and how were they, that they produced the likes of Sioma and Pauline. If this were a fairytale…I could see their mother whom they brought with them to America as a talisman, as the rescued damsel, as a prisoner, or as the force of their lives. The father who had died in France could become the defeated dragon, or the heart and soul of the family and death had left them floundering and eating each other up; the life force that was too intense, or the fire that partly destroyed them. He is mysterious but very relevant. Snippets of stories about him tantalize and resolve nothing.
The mother …well, I think of other mothers I have known. Was she like Lilly who mothered Perle and Larry? Or like Betty with Carol and Ken? Or like Jane with Zoe and Rachel? Or like Pauline with Jean Pierre and Philippe? Was she a major player or a passive wonderer? Did she create the scene or is she just watching it bewildered?
There are those who would say: who cares. Why are you stuck on this. Just get on with your life.
Who they were is a lot about who I am today. It would help to know, to understand and maybe I could free myself of certain demons. I did not grow up with stories told and retold of family lore. I am stranded on a desert island. I am a detective with a magnifying glass. I am a pathologist with a scalpel. I am not willing yet to forget it and make it all up.