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Friday, September 12, 2008

Ancestral Claims

Brookstown Antiques
Brookstown @ Burke

My late mother and I used to dream of buying discarded oil portraits of other people's ancestors and claiming them as our own. We'd go antiquing in dusty, old stores in Woodstock or Mt. Jackson, deep in Shenandoah County, Virginia, and we'd look longingly at the ancestors leaning against the walls.

Then we'd begin to spin the yarns, deciding we'd tell guests to our homes that this one was Great Aunt Prudencia, who'd gone completely mad after giving birth to a son who greatly resembled a goat kid, her hair turning that white overnight. That one was a portrait of Cousin Archibald, a distant relative who sadly died of sepsis after an unfortunate, but seemingly minor, shaving injury to his wattle. We'd make up outlandish tales of illegitimacy and piracy and gruesome demise until we couldn't speak, until we were laughing so hard there was no sound, until tears poured out of our jammed-shut eyes.
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