January 29, 2007
I read a book several years ago—actually, I think I’ve read it three times now—Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. The story took place in the late 1800s, off the Maine coast. The main characters turned an old convent into a home for pregnant, unwed girls. This book is my favorite Shreve novel. It was a good story
Several years later, Shreve had a new book out called Sea Glass. It too was set along the Maine coast, in the year 1929. The characters in this book move into an abandoned house that was built in the previous book. The old convent, all boarded up, was also mentioned. This was not a central plot point in Sea glass, just mentioned in passing.
I was hit with an expected feeling of great sadness. Fortune’s Rocks ended with the two characters happily together and doing their life’s work. Years later, a boarded up old house was the only remnant of those who came before; new people living their lives in the footprints of people they will never know.
Being a family historian, I think a lot about legacy. It is almost a burden now. Every day I don’t start writing, I wonder how much more time I am going to have to get to story down on paper. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do—my life’s work. I think about it every day, stories running through my head.
We are not famous people, quite ordinary actually. I feel that I need to write everything I know about our family for future generations. My search for the truth is the most cathartic things I have ever done; I truly believe it helped me to find myself. I want them to know who we are and for them to know how much love we have in our family. So many people are just gone, never leaving a hint of their life story, just a name on a slab of cold granite.