The most notable thing about Ewoldts spending time together is the silence that fills the room. We are by nature solitary people, so putting us together occasionally results in us being alone in good company. We will find ways to be together that are simply us enjoying to proximity of each other.
While Aunty J was in town, we used the words needed to catch up, but there are no superfluous words. Lately, with the family struggles, we have been more talkative than usual as neither of us are entirely sure of how to live in these new realities, so there is more conversation than usual. There are also plenty of games. Games gives us the chance to be together even if there are no words, which is common with Ewoldts. And this is where most memories of Leo come from, playing cards. While I can’t recall a conversation I had with him, I remember plenty of card games. I can still see him at our table in Mobile. Sitting with his back to the windows as the sunlight came in. For a family that struggles to live in the close proximity demanded by family, games have served as a bridge. It’s an easy way for us to exist together, a natural meeting ground, that does not violate our comfort. We can ease into familial roles with one another here. Instead of the dinner table, the game table is the bonding place for us as a family.
My memory of Leo may not just be mine. When asked what Leo was like, Aunty J responded with his hobbies. He was an active outdoorsman. For someone who was so close to him, it seems a strange response. There was no active description of him offered only this. It slowly occurred to me this was how I remember him as well. I remember him at the card table. She remembers him camping. More than anything, we remember him as a presence. An immovable object of sorts. In spite of his favored state of silence, he left an unmistakable impression, even if we can’t articulate what that means. He was there. For someone who struggled with being a part of a family, that may be all that matters. Even though it contradicted his nature, he stood against it and did his best to be a part of the family. He did so on his terms, quietly, and offered the one thing he could comfortably give us, himself. Not an unguarded version of himself, but the physical nearness of himself. That is something he gave freely and willingly. I can’t say I ever knew Leo in a true sense, in that I knew his personality and his ticks. But I knew what it was like to have him near. Maybe that is the only memory that matters.