My mom moved to California a few weeks ago. Because space was rather limited inside the moving truck, she had to pick and choose what to take with her. When the last of the boxes were tucked away inside the semi, she had a collection of boxes that needed a new home. If no one took them, they'd end up in the trash. When she told me the boxes contained pictures and other bits of memorabilia my great-grandparents had left with her, I volunteered to come pick them up.
It took a few days. Sometimes our lives get so busy with work and school and the boys' sports schedule, that I forget about the spontaneous obligations that spring up.
I'm glad I didn't forget this one. Taking time out of my busy schedule to drive over to her old house and bother the new tenets was worth the effort. I ended up with six boxes and you cannot imagine what treasures I've uncovered.
When our Team-Up Thursday assignment was announced - nine - I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I pulled out nine of the most convenient items out of the first box I picked from the pile. Here's what I contributed this week:
My great-parents were writers. Not the same kind of writer I am, but a writer of an entirely different breed. They wrote poetry. They wrote stories focused on family history. Some of the stories read like creative non-fiction, some like history lessons. Best of all, almost everything is dated and signed.
Reading a poem your great-grandmother wrote when she was sixteen is nothing short of surreal.
Of course, they weren't only writers. They were readers. In fact, I can still recall the dim sunlight filtering into their bedroom to caress the hardcover spines of assorted novels and piles of National Geographic magazines. Oh, how I wish I had more of those books or some of those magazines now.
What few books I do have from Grandma and Grandpa (I rarely called them anything else when I'd go to visit), are so very precious. Although not pictured here, I have a set of encyclopedias Grandpa gave me when I was a young adult. Now I get to add three small books that fit into the palm of my hand to that collection. Here's one of them:
I'm not even sure who Charles Lamb is or why I'd want to read a collection of his essays, letters, or verses. But now I'm curious. I might just have to go Google this fellow.
Also, the binding. The copyright date of 1899. The print date of 1903. Delightful!
Even better, though? Is the inscription. "To Edwin from Mom". Suddenly this little book has added sentimental value because "Mom" in this instance is my great-great-grandmother. I barely remember her. Actually, I remember the snakes sunning themselves on her front step more than I remember her.
But somewhere I've seen a picture of me with her. I was perhaps 4 or 5 and she was 210. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. She might have been in her late 70s, early 80s or 90s. Hard to tell.
The great thing is I have an opportunity not many people are given in life. I can get to know her and so many of my other deceased relatives through the writing of my great-grandparents. Pictured below is one of three collections my grandparents pulled together of what they believed were the most important or revealing family stories.
This book is perhaps a 1/2-inch thick. Maybe more. It's mostly a collection of family stories and reproductions of antique photographs. I've read a few.
On the dedication page I'm mentioned by name. Me, my mom, and my cousin Brad were recruited for the daunting task of transcribing my great-grandpa's nearly illegible scrawl. We took his handwritten efforts and typed them up.
One of the only times I can recall actually arguing with my grandpa was over this book. He told me I didn't know how to read and I told him he didn't know to write. I was standing on the back porch at my Dad's house. Grandpa was standing on the ground looking up at me. We were both so frustrated.
Luckily, Grandma's handwriting was much easier on the eyes.
I wonder if she really meant these words. Was it a secret dream of hers to become a nurse? I never would have suspected!
Not sure which of them wrote this one.
Of course, the boxes contained more their poems and stories. There were also cards and letters. Property deeds. Newspaper clippings. And their high school diplomas! I'll have to update this post later with their graduation dates.
Inside Grandma's diploma was this little newspaper clipping. Of the five graduates pictured, two of them are my grandparents: Helen and Edwin. Isn't it cute? They were high school sweethearts!
And I have six boxes filled with treasures like these. I feel so very blessed.
Now I just need to figure out how I can share them with the family at large. I'm thinking of setting up a website. I'm also thinking of reproducing the poetry and stories into something a bit more elegant. Perhaps a Lulu book that would be available to family members only? Not sure.