We’ve been putting a family tree together for our daughter. Nothing flash or professional, just some brief info we’ve managed to gather online. It’s kind of weird to have a snapshot in time of the lives of all these people that we don’t and won’t know, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
If only we could organise our own fragmented memories and experiences into a nice neat timeline and somehow make everything make sense. It’s all very well accepting that something we don’t all remember must have happened because otherwise it wouldn’t be remembered by whoever, but there’s very little context to these things.
Not unlike looking at census records, we have a brief snapshot of time. The census, however, gives names, a date, a location – checkable facts. We have none of that, just a momentary look into our past with nothing to anchor it in place.
We can anchor our more recent past in relation to dates – marriage, our daughter, house moves etc. – but even then time is fluid and events drift months and even years out of place without us realising so that something could have happened last week or two years ago. There will never be a timeline, we don’t think, but it would be nice to organise all this stuff somehow and keep it in place.
As Holmes says in The Hound of the Baskervilles, “A pin, a cork, and a card, and we add him to the Baker Street collection!”. If we could just pin cards in some sort of order, even if only on a mental cork board – they wouldn’t make pleasant reading – they would at least give some organisation to all the snatches and snapshots.