One of my favorite moments in the movie Elizabethtown is when Drew finally gets to Elizabethtown and meets his dad’s side of the family. They’re noisy and messed up and a crowd of people have gathered at an aunt’s house. Somebody’s cooking. Too many people are in the kitchen. Kids are screaming.
And somewhere in the middle of all the confusion and cacophony, someone looks at Drew and says something to the effect of, “These are your people. This is where you come from.”
I love it because that moment is real. It feels like a family gathering to me.
I love it because I like to remember where I come from. Who I am. Where I fit.
That I am Marion and Pauline’s granddaughter. Jason’s sister. Eli’s aunt. A daughter. A friend.
A girl in love with love and the power of perfectly chosen words.
See, I had a great-aunt named Alfreda. She was a force to be reckoned with. She passed away when I was a kid, but I still remember her smile. It could light up a room. She had flair and personality. And my mom has always said I reminded her of Alfreda, an aunt my mom adored. My face is shaped a little like hers—and it’s good to know you look like someone, especially since my dad’s side of the family has often pointed out I don’t much look like the rest of the Crows.
I thought Alfreda was a lot of fun and interesting to boot. She had been a nurse. She had started life with the last name Bumgardaner, married someone with a last name that started with a C, then at some later point, married someone whose last name began with a D, making her initials ABCD.
Alfreda was amazing. And Alfreda wrote poems.
I’d seen the ones she’d written about my birth, the one she’d written to my grandparents when they became grandparents. But somehow, I’d pushed it all aside, thinking she was just one of those people who wrote little poems for members of her family. But her daughter recently gave my mom all of Alfreda’s poems. Stacks of them. Some typed, some handwritten. Poems about life. About the death of her best friend (which includes the line: Last month, my secrets died), poems to her daughter. My mom read a few that seemed a little racy. . . Alfreda clearly wrote about everything in life, the good, the bad, the stuff you talk about in polite company, and the things you don’t.
And as we looked over those poems together last weekend, my mom looked at me and said words that almost matched those spoken to Drew in Elizabethtown.
“You must have gotten some of it from them,” she said, looking up from Alfreda’s stack of poetry and catching my eye.
“Them” refers to Alfreda and my grandfather, Marion, who also wrote poems. “It” refers to the innate need within me to write, to tell stories, to make sense of my world through words.
The world may never read Alfreda’s poems or appreciate them, but I do.
This is where I come from.