As I mentioned last time, having my ancestors’ pictures and household items around me helps me feel connected to them. It would be even better if I had more memories of them.
I had the chance, you know. I could have listened to my elders, the ones I can remember. I could have gotten to know them better. Much as I loved my grandparents, my interest in our visits generally consisted of watching TV, playing outside, and wangling extra desserts. Also I’d help with chores, but lacked enthusiasm.
I wish I’d spent more time, for instance, with my Great-Grandpa. I could have asked him for his stories. He must have had some interesting ones to tell; after all, he lived to age 105 and celebrated his one hundredth birthday while I was in high school. He was nearly deaf, but once he started talking he wouldn’t have had to worry about trying to hear my wispy little voice.
My mom told me some of her own stories of growing up. For instance, I have one quilt my Nana made when Mom was only five. While she was piecing it, she let Mom select the next little cotton hexagon from the basket. Mom could point out any bit of calico and tell me whose dress or apron it came from. She also knew the story of every quilt–who made it, and roughly when. Fortunately, I took photos and notes.
I’m glad I had that personal connection with Mom, but I can’t go back and build one with those who are gone.
What I can do is document the photos and display some of the coolest ones. I can enjoy using Great-Grandma’s cream pitcher and the delicate hand-painted fruit bowl from Germany. But what if they break? Well, at least they will have been part of my life first instead of just being stuck in a box forever.
And as for the kids, my wise friend Shelley tells me, “I value what was my grandparents’ and great grandparents’ and know that one day some of my descendants will value all these things and will be glad I preserved them. One day yours will be glad you have done the same.”
Yay for leaving a legacy of connection and good memories for my own kids, and for their kids.
Thanks for reading!