I hope to see the stones I had set this summer for my Great Aunt and Great Great Grandmother -- and on my meander back to Denny I realized I was right on top of Immanuel Lutheran Church, which my grandmother attended as a little girl when she lived with her family in that same hollow that has now blossomed around REI. Then it was residential, and thick with freshly imported Norwegian immigrants. This discovery meant that the swank cafe in which I drank my coffee stood on the site of the laundromat where my great grandmother had worked, earning ten dollars a week (the men made 20), to support her three children, her mother, her sister, and her shell-shocked uncle.
They were very thin.
I parked at the curb and approached the church. It was open, and the nice man inside said sure I could see the sanctuary. He led the way.
I didn't expect that an empty building I have never been in would prompt me to burst into tears that way.
I fled to the balcony so as not to make a spectacle of myself, but that was only worse. When I attended church with Grama as a girl in her Burien neighborhood we were often late, and we would sneak into the balcony, quiet like a secret. I adored the nest it made around us and the view from above.
It took some doing but I settled myself down after a lot of poking around (holga to come). Thanking the nice man for his kindness, I headed for my exit.
He asked me when was she here? And led me to a stand with photos of confirmation classes going back into the 1920s. We found Grama's name listed in the class of 1933, but I couldn't pick out her face in the photo, even after we moved it toward the light coming through the stained glass.
Which is all right. Mr. Stiffarm (which was his name) took my name and address and said he would ask the pastor to send me a copy.
I believe that he will, but even if it doesn't arrive, I have all that I need.
Posted by cameraphone from Seattle.