Stories that transition multiple generation.
I remember clearly talking to my Grandfather before his death in 1981 about the soon returning astronomical event that is Halley’s Comet due in 1986.
He remembered it’s last visit to our part of the solar system in 1910 when he was just a boy of 11. He described to me to feelings that can’t be seen in a photo, looking into blackness of the the western sky from the family farm soon after sunset. Seeing this super bright star with it’s long tail across a quarter of the sky, just hanging there, like a huge shooting star, not moving but blazing the spectacle that is seen only every 76 years. How I looked forward with excitement to what I would see when it returned.
I waited, then on it’s return in 1986 I looked up and saw a – well, I’ll put it this way, it looked like a smudge. That’s how I describe it. Halley’s Comet in 1986 looked like a mid bright star that God had placed his thumb on and smudged across the black canvas of the sky. No bright star, no long tail, no majesty, no big deal. I was disappointed!
After years of waiting to share the spectacle and see the same sight that my Grandfather had seen all those years ago, to share with his story my experience I was simply let down. It was not to be my time in the cycle of the solar system. We were too far away, on the other side of the Sun, unlike in 1910. We are going to be closer in 2061 but still too far away when Halley’s Comet returns for an event like it was for my Grandfather, so my daughter will also miss out on the great show. But maybe, just maybe, in 2137 it will be different. Halley’s Comet will again be the greatest astronomical event of the year, like it was for my Grandfather. In 2137 the cycles will be better again and my descendants will have a show, like it was in 1910, sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t.
Even though I didn’t personally see the 1910 spectacle, because I spoke to someone who was there and in his own way spoke with conviction and excitement of what he saw some 70 years earlier I feel like I shared in the experience with him. I still remember him telling me and my fascination for hearing the story and imagining what he saw. Yes, it was only my imagination but somehow I almost felt as though I could see Halley’s Comet with him, even separated by the decades. I was with someone who had been there, who had the experience and took the time to share the story of those experiences with me. That’s something that he was able to share with me because of our relationship and his ability to convey what he experienced.
Across the generations I almost feel as though I too was there with him, looking into the Western Sky, watching that fireball and streaming tail just hanging there for all to see. And as I share that story with my daughter, will she also imagine what it was like in 1910 when it becomes her time to be disappointed in 2061?
But if the story continues, her grandchildren may well look up to see the same fireball as my Grandfather and tell of the last time it looked like this, some 230 years ago from their great,great,great,grandfather. Just one story shared within a family, from one to another, across generations.
Family stories passed down the generations and heard, almost as if we were there.