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I don’t know why, but I’ve been waxing nostalgic a lot lately, thinking about where I came from and how that may have made me, for good or ill, who I am today.

Spurred on by a free two-week membership at ancestry.com (which I have to remember to cancel before they charge my credit card), I’ve become reunited with family, some of whom I never met, others who I scarcely remember. I have the address where my father lived in 1930, when he was still Chasimer Rudolph Moroski, not the Charles Ralph Moore that I knew as my dad. The street no longer exists, having been consumed by an enormous shopping mall, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that were he alive today and in that same place, he’d be right next to a P. F. Chang’s, with a Starbuck’s right around the corner (this according to Google Maps).

I now know the names of Mom’s maternal grandparents and the city in Hungary where they and her mother came from. I’ve seen Mom’s father in the uniform of the Austria-Hungarian Army before he emigrated to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines. I know what my Uncle Mike looked like, even though he was killed in a car wreck in 1935. I can look into the eyes of my Uncle George, a suicide in 1963, when I was too young to really know anyone.

Through the magic of these images, I can look again into my Mother’s eyes, even though she died in 2005. Not only that, but I can see her in the prime of her life, in her late 20s, in the uniform of the United States Navy during World War II.

Mom - in the 1940s

I don’t know when this photo was taken. I know she enlisted, probably in 1943 or 44, served at Pearl Harbor, and returned home aboard the USS Solace in October of 1945. She was proud of her military service, but I don’t see that pride in this image. I see pretty much the same vague sadness in her eyes that I will always remember.

I cried like a little baby when I first saw this picture a few days ago. It brought back a flood of memories, some good, some bad. I don’t so much miss Mom as I mourn the relationship we were never quite able to have. This photo shows an intelligent, articulate, and highly independent woman off on an adventure she’d never forget. She wasn’t quite like that when I knew her. Still very intelligent, but she’d lost a good deal of her spark by the time I came along.

As a creator of images as well as a consumer, I hope that I, too, can make something that stands the test of time, that touches someone across whatever it is that separates us from our history. All I can ask is that my work be seen, and pray that it is remembered.

RXM

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2 Comments

  1. You sure have a way with words and images, my friend. I hope you didn’t inherit your mom’s vague sadness (which I see in this photo too); if you did, I hope you manage it well. Thank you for all that you share. My life is better because you and your blog are in it.

  2. Only an artist can communicate in the language of symbols as you do so well, RXM. Melancholic and profound, this face of a woman not yet a mother. I can’t help but wonder if she ever reflected back on her innocence and the portend in the name of that ship, the USS Solace, as you have done on her behalf. No matter how tired or unfortunate her circumstances may have seemed to you, she knew the most precious, irrational, and undying kind of love there is. That is the love of being a mother. Not for just the first one or two of her children, as might believe, but for all of you. How beautiful are the tears you shed! How beautiful the remembrance. Each of you are her greatest works of art! I am so touched by how raw and deep the feelings you are able openly express. As a mother, I know how proud I would be if I had a hand in the creation of such a sensitive and compassionate soul.


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