Wouldn’t it wonderful to be able to travel back in time to visit your ancestors as their lives played out, instead of having to piece their lives together, from the trail of evidence they’ve left behind? Whilst researching my Great Grandparents’ wedding, wishing I could be there to see and experience it firsthand, a strange thing happened. I received an invitation in the mail, to which I promptly replied.
Dear Great Grandmother,
An invitation appeared in the letterbox today and upon opening the envelope I was quite dismayed at the card I held in my hand. How could it be? It is an invitation to your wedding to be held on 15th October 1902? Am I dreaming or has technology advanced so far as allowing me to travel back in time? Of course, Great Grandmother, my reply is ‘Yes’, as I would be honoured to be your wedding guest.
It would be an opportunity to meet you as a young woman, and all those members of my family who bid their farewells long before I was born. I especially look forward to seeing your sister Nelly as a little girl. Do you think she recognize me at all? Grandma, with your permission of course, I would gladly introduce myself as your Great Granddaughter. There is something so warm and welcoming as seeing familiar faces whose features you have inherited yourself. And, how wonderful it will be for them to see their own faces in a face from the future.
Grandma, I look forward to sitting in the Cathedral so grand, watching you walk down the aisle on the arm of the man who was one of our family’s greatest pioneers. What a sight to behold, amidst operatic ceilings, choruses of archways, and the dazzling dance of coloured light projecting through stained glass. There will be whispers of guests watching your beauty enhanced by the heavenly notes of the bridal march. My attention will hang onto every note of those whispers in the lilting Irish voices of loved ones who were so dear. Would you mind, Grandma, if I bring a tape recorder so that my family at home can hear the voices of their ancestors who are no longer here?
But most of all Grandma, I wish to see you in colour instead of black and white. I want to see your beautiful coif of red hair, porcelain skin, dark blue eyes and the details of your wedding dress. Yes, I love the mystery that sepia presents, but to take a glimpse into your special moment in time, would be sublime. I am also sure that meeting you as a young woman will feel very strange as I only knew you in old age.
Yes, dear Grandma, we will meet again in the future, when I am a child. I will visit your home on Sunday afternoons and we’ll sit around your table enjoying tea and scones. And as the years go by, my memories of those visits will never fade with age; they will always be dear to me. All I have of you, are those sweet memories.
I can also tell you that you will have four sons, and your third child, my Grandfather will be named John Austin Lyons. There are many details of your future life that I could tell you, Grandma, but that would be inconsiderate of me to fill you with worry when fate has plans that cannot be changed. That would deprive you of life’s little mysteries, and one cannot change history. If that were possible, there would be no history to tell. So, when you emerge from the sanctity of the cathedral on 15th October 1902, go forth and be happy wherever your life takes you. Just remember, Grandma, when you hit some unexpected bumps in the road, hold on tight, as you will survive. That I know for sure.
Before I say goodbye, I thank you Grandma for thinking of me; someone whose leaves have not yet sprouted on your family tree. I so look forward to seeing you and meeting Great Grandfather too on your wedding day in 1902.
Kim Elizabeth Lyons.
Your Great Grand daughter