You know those families that laugh really loud and shriek when they’re excited, and could be crying from fond memories in the next moment? I come from one of those families. Our shoulders shake when we laugh, we sometimes snort (I may snort more often than others), and we end most conversations with a contented sigh. We love the great outdoors, big trees, and being with family. There is definitely a family resemblance! I often wondered how far back the resemblance went, or if it was limited to the most recent generations. You know, because life as a poor immigrant farmer during the Great Depression probably didn’t lend itself to a well of joy. To my surprise, family history has proven otherwise!
My cousin, who bequeathed all her super trendy hand-me-downs to me and my sister, recently unearthed a treasure chest. In shaking off the winter doldrums, she shook some dust off of one of her late mother’s chests and found gold! Not literal gold, but to family members it was worth far more than any precious material: old-never-before-seen family photographs (and I mean old). My mom had been collecting photographs and stories from my grandmother and her aunts and cousins for years, but there was still some mysteries in the photos she had. For example, there was a friendly looking man that was always hanging around the farm with a great big smile always on his face. He seemed very familiar with everyone in the family, but my mom had no idea who he was; just that he wasn’t related to us. When we started going through the photographs my cousin found, pieces of the puzzle started coming together. My aunt had labeled a lot of her photos, and as soon as this stranger had a name, my mom put two and two together – he was her uncle’s closest friend in the world!
But that wasn’t the best part.
My cousin reached down to pull something else out of the pile that she had brought to our table. She said, “You’ve probably seen this before, but I didn’t know about it until this week.” It was a journal titled, Mom, Share Your Life with Me. I looked over at my mom, expecting her to nod and say, “Oh, yes!” but she wasn’t. She just looked confused. It was a journal that my aunt had given my grandmother with daily questions to prompt the sharing of childhood memories, school experiences, seasonal traditions, personality development, courtships, and more. None of us knew that this journal existed!
My mom pulled the book out of the box and opened it up to the first page. As soon as she saw her mother’s handwriting it was like Grandma was immediately sitting there at the table with us, sharing her stories of her childhood and early adult life. It was like we were having a family reunion, but instead of traveling miles to see one another, we were traveling across generations! One answer after another had us laughing and crying. Mom kept saying, “I never heard her share that before!” and when she knew the story she would fill in even more details. For example, one of the questions was, “When do you remember first eating pizza?” My grandmother had answered that it was after she married her second husband. My mom immediately said, “That’s not true! Maybe she’s talking about store bought pizza, because I remember her making us homemade pizza all the time on the farm. I was allergic to tomatoes, so they pulled the crust off for me to eat, and I thought I was in dough heaven!” Of course, we added that story to the journal, too!
The next day, my mom pulled a book out of a drawer in the coffee table and started flipping through it thoughtfully. “What is that?” I inquired. It was a journal my sister had given her to facilitate the sharing of her life stories. It had sat in that drawer for years without even a dot of ink added to it. After the emotional “reunion” with her own mother the night before, she flipped through the pages and then set it to the side – but not in the drawer. She now understood the importance of documenting even what she may consider an ordinary life.
You see, it’s easy to find the family resemblance in our physical appearances through old photos, which is partly why I love old photos. But when you have stories recorded to go along with the photos, you start to discover how deeply the family resemblance runs. My grandmother loved playing outdoors, sitting under a tree was her favorite spot for reflection, her faith was of utmost importance, she knew her parents loved her, and she out-shown all the boys in tree climbing. One of the last questions in my grandmother’s journal was, “What else do you want me to know about about your childhood?” In her answer she centered on this, “We had a happy childhood and we were well loved.” The next question was, “What do you want me to know about my childhood (because sometimes we forget). Her answer was similar, “You had a happy childhood and you were well loved.” I can say the same about my childhood, and I am blessed to say the same about my son’s childhood.
Thank God for our family resemblance, written stores, and old photos!
Inspired to have give your children a similar experience? See how my Family Journal would be perfect for you!
- Posted by hellobabs
- On May 8, 2018
- 0 Comment