After our parents died, just five months from each other, my brother and sister and I were left with the task and in the end the joy of going through and settling up those things that remained of their lives on earth. It was an emotional time but it was also a good time.
Our family is just common folk. Most of us will never be written up in any history book other than the one we write for our self. We will probably never have a major claim to fame but that doesn’t make our history any less important than that of anyone else in the world. Our generations are as important to us and our life as those of any King, Queen, President or other world leader famed scientist or religious leader; or corporate executive or politician. It is our history, who we are and where we came from, for better or worse.
For several evenings we sat together around my parent’s kitchen table going through albums and boxes of old photographs, memories and stories they had shared with us about the family members and friends came to mind and we talked and shared until often the wee hours of the morning. These old photographs are part of our history, our genealogy, our ancestry. We found pictures of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and great-great grandparents and photos of people none of us knew, old army buddies and co-workers and friends we weren’t personally acquainted with among the photos stored in the boxes and albums on the closet shelf.
As sad as we all were over losing our parents and so close together, what a wonderfully rewarding experience we shared. On the backs of several of these photos were brief notations, names, someone’s birthday, wedding, anniversary, christening, baptism, a special outing or vacation, family reunions, someone’s home, the farm, the orchard, the mill, the camp; the bear, the deer, the bobcat someone shot, the fish someone caught, the flowers, the garden someone grew; families, parents and children and the pets.
We each, my brother, sister and I divided up the photos, shared them, made copies of some for each of us to keep, our personal history to pass on to our children. Some of them were very old and needed to be carefully cared for, many of them fading. To preserve them I have put them in acid free plastic sleeves and keep them in a scrap book “the bits and pieces of my life.” For those that I am able to, I have written down the stories and tales and personal accounts, the history that I have been told so the history, legends and lore, the story of my family will not be lost. It is all in a book I am making up for my children and grandchildren.
Along with these stories I have written down, I have included any newspaper articles I have been able to find about the subject of the photo. They are all organized in that marvelous scrapbook. Not only will this be a treasure for those who come after me but it is a pleasure for me to enjoy and share with family and friends now. Those photos have also prodded me into researching the history, cultural, social history of the lands these people came from before they came to America and imagine what life may have been like for my ancestors.
It is all fascinating and in the process I have found that we are related, however distantly to some fairly famous and some very infamous characters and have been able to come up with more old photographs or copies of them. Old photographs, the pictures of our past, what a wonderful legacy to pass on to the next generations.