Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When History Goes on Around You.

Today, July 26th, has always been an interesting day in my family. For my immediate little family, it's my daughter's birthday. It's a day of joy and happiness, because she's another year older. And, when you know that she's had her fair share of brushes with death (falling down an open balcony and landing on a piano bench- and coming away without a bruise, eating rat poison, hanging herself on a bunk bed- this one I actually needed to give her mouth to mouth because she'd stopped breathing, and all of this before the age of three) you realize it truly is a day of celebration.

But for everyone else in my family, my parents and brother, my mother's brothers, it's a bittersweet day. Because, yes, my daughter is a year older, but it also marks the anniversary of my grandmother's death.

On July 26, 1967, my grandmother, Helen Hall, was victim number 36 in the Detroit Race Riots of 1967. This year it's especially bittersweet as it's the 50th anniversary of her death, the 50th anniversary of those riots.

It's interesting being "me" in the family. I'm the youngest, I was 6 months old when it happened. According to my family, my grandmother was coming to visit me as soon as she'd finished up her business trip in Detroit. History was made and it happened all around me, though I didn't even realize it.

I'm the 'removed' one of this story.

My mother still gets misty eyed talking about her mother, and the events of that day. My brother talks openly about his five year old memories. My poor uncle, who came to live with us at age 13 after his mother was killed, has never been the same. He struggles with alcohol, drugs, and other mental health issues. This 50th anniversary has really done a number on him. The fact that they're making a film has only brought out more of his issues.

I don't even know if I have a point to this post, other than to say my daughter is 22 and 50 years ago my grandmother was murdered. They're making a movie of one of the stories of that riot, and my family is affected by it in so many ways that the average person isn't.

When history happens all around you, but you're not involved, it makes for a bittersweet kind of day.

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