Aww, Mom's only been arrested twice."
- Bart Simpson on The Simpsons
But how well do I know them? How well do the younger generations know our family's history? Its traditions? Its characters?
But do the newest generations of Wilds' know the rich tapestry of their family's legends and myths? Do they understand what it means to carry on the memory of a family that is deeply rooted in the history of the Eastern Upper Peninsula?
As he works - and I direct - there is plenty of time for converstaion. Most of it centered on family stories. Family history. And I have been amazed at how little he knows of our family - of our family's connection to the rich history of the Upper Peninsula. Of what it means to be able to say he is a part of that history. That he is a part of all those that came before him - that our history has somehow been a factor in molding who he is.
Great Uncle Earlan was known near and far as a tight wad. Very little went to waste in the back room of his Sugar Island butcher shop. If a customer had a penny he wanted it. How Earlan lost an eye never surprised anyone - family, friend or enemy.
Not one to pass up the deposit money these bottles represented, Earlan reached down and began to struggle with wrestling the bottles free from their icy shackles.
The first gave way quick and easy. The second proved a harder fight. The more Earlan struggled, it seemed, the harder the ice gripped the bottle. Earlan pulled. He wiggled. He braced himself. And he finally applied enough force to wrestle the bottle free.
But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A fact Earlan hadn't braced himself for. The momentum of the bottle in his hand took him quite by surprise. The top of the bottle impacted his eye in such a way as to do permanent damage.
Earlan wore a black eye patch for the rest of his life - much to us younger Wilds' delight. He became a family legend in his own time.
Stories like this define one's sense of the unique nature of each of our families, and of our own places in them. They provide us with inspiration, warnings, and cherished values. These stories never leave us; they reverberate through our lives, guiding our choices in work, friendship and love.
As summer approaches we, the members of the extended Wilds' clan, are looking forward to gathering in the Soo. To taking time to reconnect with Aunts and Uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and siblings. To share the stories that make up the legend of our family.
Every family has its myths - its fabulous characters. Do you know your family's stories?
The family . . .
We are a strange little band of characters trudging through life - sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it all in the same instant. Loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that binds us all together. - Erma Bombeck