Creating an Heirloom
My daughters never knew much about my relatives; I married and had moved across the continent before they were born. With a young family, money was tight and I didn’t get home often. When I did, it was hectic moving among three households: the grandmother who raised me, my mother, and the separate residence of my father. Most of the time I went alone.
To my daughters, my family and growing up years were a mystery to them, and they wanted to know more about the heritage coming from my lineage, my family, what I was like before they knew me.
The past two months I have been focused on fulfilling their request by writing my memoirs.
I wrote small vignettes about learning to ride my bike and about the wonder of fireflies. I told of my adventures like the annual fall trip to Atlantic City with its Diving Horse and going out on a freezing winter’s night with my grandparents to pick up whiting that the high tide had stranded on the ocean sands. My grandmother had bundled me like a tiny Eskimo, so wrapped in clothing that if I had tried to help pick up one of the fish I would have fallen down and not been able to get up!
I produced profiles of the important people in my life. I described what it was like living in a small community on the Atlantic Coast during WWII. I explained the life of a small child growing up among adults before TV, Xbox and without playmates, what the environment looked like–the land-the church–the community– the school—my family—me.
Can you imagine how much you can learn about yourself writing this way? But there is another value too. The creation of a journal focusing on this method becomes a family heirloom. To my memoirs, I am adding:
1] Photographs, some real, some photocopied and hand colored
2] Poetry, mine and other’s
3] Web links for more information on things like the Nazi subs off the Jersey coast
4] Descriptions of strange terms like “taxi dancer” since I was named after one
5] A family tree or other genealogical information