Its the little details of relationships that are added together to create an over arching theme of the relationships we share with one another. There is a bus driver who works the same route I take to work each morning. He opens the door with a smile and names all of the ladies sweetheart in his deep southern drawl. He is a good driver who knows how to voice a loving spirit and I can't help but feel happy whenever I ride his bus.
I grew up with the impression that the people in the south were unusually polite and kind. There are many things I remember learning in my childhood that would be untrue, but this one seems to have stood the test of time. Walk downtown sometime and count the number of times people hold open a door for you, or tell you to go ahead of them when getting on an elevator. Its nice.
Also true was the impression that my last name is unusually unique. I always thought that anyone in my home town of four million people that shared my last name had to be related to me. My Aunt confirmed this assumption and more. Everyone living today in the United States with our last name is a cousin of mine. They all fit nicely on the family tree she put together in her Power Point presentation.
We were all reunited earlier this month in an event at my Aunt's country home. My sister's, both older than me greeted old family members with smile and familiar glances. Everyone looked at me and said, "You must be the baby." I found it kind of funny. I'm the baby. Anna was just a baby the last time they all got together when my Grandmother died. Gradma Mary was the glue that held them all together. The reason they would come and see my Papa Louie. With her gone, it just wasn't the same.
As we sit and watch a slide show of old family pictures there are a lot of people, names, that I know nothing about. In all that mess there is a picture of my Grandfather, smiling underneath the sign on his old gas station. This is the Papa Louie I knew and loved, and yet, my oldest sister talks about what a fretful old man he was. Many tell me that I was the only person he was ever nice to. I can't belive it. The only thing I really remember is the way he would sing me that old folk song... K-K-Katy you are my sweetie. You're the only K-K-Katy I adore! How could a man like that be fretful? He was the only grandparent I ever knew and he died when I was nine.
He left behind a one page letter that, as far as I know, is the only written explanation as to why these people from France came and settled in Houston, Texas of all God forsaken places. I don't really have a burning desire to know all about my ancestors, but I'm always intrigued by people who make Houston their home by choice. Its very stylish to live in Houston and hate it. I love the place, but its an acquired taste. From what Papa Louie wrote, the reasons for settling here haven't changed much over the last one hundred years. Apparently the land here was cheep. A mosquito invested swamp before before the advent of air conditioning, and pest control. Its a wonder land wasn't free. There were also jobs here not long after the end of the civil war, which is odd when you consider the history of the South.
Of all the people I work closely with today, I'm the only person who was born in this city. Everyone else moved here because its a great place to find a job and has a low cost of living. Even the people who hate it here because of all of the concrete and the confusing highways and the humidity and the mosquitoes will tell you that the people here are nice. Still, as a person who has never left my hometown, I can't help but be fascinated by people who leave their homes in fantastic places, and come to live here. In a Texas swamp.