Saturday, April 23, 2011

Call with Dr. Roen and Vera Made Me Cry

Dr. Duane Roen, an expert in family history writing and family writing ethics, took a few minutes today to chat with me about the information I learned from Margurite. He said something that struck me as interesting and insightful.  He said that just because people don't want to talk about the past doesn't mean that they want it to remain hidden.

So often when I've tried to bring things up about Booker with my family I hear silence on the other end of the line.  Yet, they seem to be on board about my research.

Dr. Roen also reminded me that the filmmakers probably have the resources to uncover whatever they want about my grandfather.  I can work with them and, at a minimum, keep my family in the loop on what we're finding.  Or I can work against them and have a "Crack in America" moment.

I just feel uncomfortable being in the position I'm in.  Who am I to call my mom and my aunt and reveal information to them about their father?  Who am I to alter the way that they remember him?  They can't call their dead father on the phone and ask him why he may have kept secrets from them.

I just don't want to be the one to do the "grand reveal".  But if I don't do it, then who will?

So, I called my aunt Vera today.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I told her to sit down.  I told her what I learned about Booker from Margurite.  Not only did Vera already know, but she made a really sweet joke about it as well.  Phew.  Then I called my mom and learned that I actually only had half of the story!

When I spoke with Vera we had a very candid talk about how the filmmakers may find things that we don't want exposed.  As a family we're going on a journey to uncover as much as we can about Booker Wright, and the odds are that some painful things will come out as well.  We just have to be prepared for that.

Then, Vera made me cry.  She told me that what I was doing was good and that she was proud of me.  She said that if Booker had met me he'd be proud of me, too.  She said that every time I walked into his cafe he'd stop what he was doing and tell everyone in the room that I was his granddaughter.  She said he'd brag on me and tell everyone he knew how beautiful, wonderful, and special I am.  She said that we should have no regrets about embarking on this journey to honor him.  I hope she's right.


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