This morning when I woke up I did the usual. I opened my laptop and perused the emails that had come in overnight and then went to Facebook and browsed the most recent status updates and posts. I soon realized that even though I was doing what I did every day, this was not an “everyday” type of day. My day was just beginning, but I had been made aware of the anniversaries of two really big ends.
First, there was an email from Tia Mirna simply titled “Hilarion” reminding her siblings that they had lost their father 53 years ago on May 18. When my grandfather passed away Mirna, the oldest of six, was about 11 years old. My mom, the second oldest, was 9. My late Tia Ilka, the youngest, was just two years old. Given how young they all were when he died, I’m always impressed with how vividly my mom and her siblings remember him. I guess when you lose someone that special that young, you really have to hold on to those memories.
After reflecting on the larger-than-life image of my grandfather I moved on to Facebook where I saw that one of the Cadignans I had stalked – ahem, friended – had posted something about “Abolition de l’esclavage en Martinique…22 Mai 1848.” I don’t know French, but I do know what that means: May 22nd is the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Martinique.
With May 18th being a pivotal day in the memories and lives of Hilarion’s family and May 22nd being a pivotal day in the history of the island his parents were from, I realized how significant this week in May is for the Vallee branch of my family. Moments of realization like this remind me why doing this family history research is so important for my understanding of who I am and where I come from on both personal and historical levels.
Rest in Peace Hilarion and long live a free Martinique!