Thought for the Day: Being a Virtual Person and Honoring Ancestors


Part of the reason some of us end up living in Paris is fulfilling the wishes of our ancestors. Long after I had begun living in France, I learned from our mother that Grandma (the grandmother that I had never met – she died before I was born) had always dreamed of coming to Paris. Mother told me about this about the time she finished painting a portrait of Grandmother Kingeter in her turn-of-century big-brimmed hat.
Chris’s dad made it to Paris during World War I when drove an ambulance for the Red Cross. He told Chris to get to Paris some day and sowed the seeds of some day spending more than a day or two in the City of Light. Chris’s dad grew up on a farm in upstate New York. That quote, “you can’t keep them down once they’ve seen Paree,” was the perfection summary of what happened to Chris’s dad. When he returned to the U.S. he went to Chicago and eventually to New York City. He never got back to Paris.
Whenever I’m walking around Paris (or running in Normandy) I feel like there’s a web cam stuck right in the middle of my forehead and the ancestors are watching every step of the way, living and breathing in the landscape, smelling the fresh baked bread, the grilled chestnuts on the corner of Montparnasse and Rue du Depart, feeling the wind whip across the esplanade in front of the gare. If we were all virtual webcams for all the dead allowing them total omniscience? All our joys and suffering enacted for a vast audience. Do they live vicariously through us – do they find their hundred virgins and die their hundred deaths? And how many ways and through how many eyes have they seen, touched and said goodbye to Paris?

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