My Edmonds News is pleased to announce a new column, Family History, by Edmonds resident Maggie Fimia. This article is the first in a series, with the goal of providing pointers on how families can start compiling their own family story.
In 1982, when I was pregnant with Chelsea Anne, I found myself at Jones Beach on a beautiful, cold, blustery day in February. I was visiting with my childhood friend Clare in New York. She brought her kite.
We bundled up to brave the wind. The beach was magical despite the cold; the sky a bright, deep blue and the sunlight bounced off the waves.
It was not an easy task for us to assemble the kite in the wind. It fought any attempts at harnessing and longed to be flying as high as it could, as fast as it could.
We finally got it tamed and as Clare hung on to the spindle of twine, I ran into the wind, carrying the kite above my head. This is not easy when you’re seven months pregnant.
The wind was powerful. The kite flew up out of my hands, the spindle burned in Clare’s hands as it unraveled. The palms of her hands were on fire and her fingers automatically let go. We watched helplessly as the kite flew up and up and disappeared into the cobalt-colored abyss.
Kids are like kites. Families are like tethers.
A kite is most beautiful when it is soaring and swooping and reflecting the light from the sun. It is both a part of you and not a part of you. It is most beautiful when you have to squint to see it because the light is so bright. But it can reach those heights safely only when it is grounded by something or someone. Otherwise, it’s at the mercy of the wind, which can take it anywhere and doesn’t care about what happens to it. We’re left standing asking, “Where did it go? Has it crashed into the sea or against a cliff? Will we ever see it again?”
Kids are like kites, because they often think families are trying to hold them back, when we are actually trying to help them soar without being lost. What helps a child soar? What helps a child or whole families from being lost to the ravaging winds? It’s other family members, extended family, even just knowledge of family. It’s values, pride, accomplishments, love and dicipline. It’s having a context for your life that only comes with knowledge of family history, the good and the sad.
After 60 years of paying attention, it is clear to me that if one string is good, many strings are better in this whirlwind we call life. We can never have enough people cheering us upward or enough knowledge about our strengths and weaknesses when the storm gets brutal and relentless.
“You’re grounded!” I firmly tell Chelsea a few years later as she pulls against the tether, testing my will, my strength to keep her flying but safe. “You’re grounded,” I tell her, when we look at pictures of her ancestors and she hears their stories. “You’re grounded,” we show her, as she visits with aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins.
And now at 30, she really is.
— By Maggie Fimia
Maggie Fimia, owner of Welcome Home Family History Services, has over 30 years’ experience doing family research and helping families tell their stories. A former registered nurse, elected official and community organizer, she is the mother of two grown daughters and lives in Edmonds with her husband, Don Moe MD.