The big news in the ‘States yesterday was the solar eclipse, of course. Everybody I knew took some time to look at it. Where I live we had 84% obscuration, so at its height the air here took on a strange dark tint. It was really cool. Not as spectacular as further south, but well worth taking a few minutes and appreciating nature’s wonders.
The somewhat blurry image above was taken by my daughter with her iPod. She made her own shoebox viewer, it worked better than my idea of using a welding hood. The next time an eclipse will be visible here will be in 2099, so I can pretty safely say I won’t be around to see it. Awesome.
You all know I keep my eye out for developments in science and tech, along with military themes. An article that caught my eye was about a woman who is still drawing a pension from the Civil War. Amazing. Goes to show you how long the reverberations from a conflict can last- as we all saw on painful display in Charlottesville this past week.
My grandmother lived to be very old. She had lots of stories, and I loved to sit and listen as she told about her childhood. She rode in horse wagons to school, and she lived to see things like the iPhone7. Amazing all that happened in the span of her life. This ties into the paragraph above because I was curious if she had any memory of the Civil War, as related to her by family.
It was last May that I asked her, shortly before she passed. Her mind was still sharp, although she’d reached nearly a century and lay on her deathbed.
“Grandma, do you remember any stories about the Civil War?”
She closed her eyes. I thought maybe she’d fall asleep again. After a moment, she opened those ancient blue eyes and spoke with a quaver.
“Yes. My great-uncle told me about Andersonville Prison, he was captured in the war. He said it was awful.”
I sat there in awe. In 2016, I was hearing second-hand about a conflict that ended in 1865. If I hadn’t taken the time to ask, I would have never known. In our busy, electronic-dream filled realities, it’s easy to forget the past. If you are fortunate enough to have family or friends that have witnessed history, talk to them. I worked for an elderly gentleman once who met with Kaiser Wilhelm II in his youth. That’s a story that was almost lost in time as well.
But I listened, and I remember. If you hear and remember such stories, then they are never truly lost. Maybe one day my daughter will tell of the eclipse of 2017, and the memory will be passed along as my possible descendants watch the eclipse of 2099.
Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest characteristics. If you’ve got a good one, share it.
You never know who is listening.
2 thoughts on “Eclipse”
As one part of my job I visit the elderly in their homes (to review their eligibility for solar programs) and one elderly gent told me of when he was a stable boy at the race course and one of Melbourne’s most famous gangsters – Squizzy Taylor – came in and pulled a gun on a jockey and told him he was going to lose the next race or else. It felt like i was walking through history. I now tell that story to other people, so his story won’t die with him. Storytelling was the basis for our history and culture for a long time. No reason to change now.
As long as there are humans, there will be stories. And the story of the jockey is a good one. I do fear that our ability for oral re-telling may die out, though.