I am more than a decade younger than my only sibling. My parents were 38 and 39 when I was born. My grandparents were 62, 63, 74, and 74 when I was born.
Many of my family members had already passed on or were scattered to the winds by the time I was born. But even though or maybe because of this I grew up obsessed with knowing my family history and the lives of those who passed before me. My parents and grandparents and brother provided me with endless stories of my grandfather, who died when I was 6 and of other family members I’d never met. I’ve done some research into my family tree and still work on it from time to time; it’s a life-long project.
My parents are getting older and all of my grandparents have since passed away and so now I’m the memory keeper. I keep every word, every funny story, and every random fact tucked away close to my heart. They all mean the world to me and people they represent are as real as if I’ve known them forever. My family freely sharing their stories and the stories of their loved ones have been the greatest gift anyone could ever give to me.
My uncle passed away earlier this year and after his funeral I had the opportunity to connect with family members I previously had no real opportunity to be with. By happenstance and by Facebook I’ve been able to get to know another relative with whom I’d previously been unable to spend time. It’s been wonderful getting to know her.
I’ve been working on a project to scan all of my family’s photos and make CDs of all the scanned photos to mail to anyone who wants one. I’ve been having so much fun going through each photo but in some ways it’s like going through another family from another time’s photos because I either met most of the people when they were older or never met them at all. It’s otherworldly. I found today’s photos among a bunch of photos I assume were my grandmother’s (Nanny). I’m in love with the dresses, the flowers, the veils. Even though I didn’t know anyone in the photo I’m seriously considering enlarging it and hanging it on my wall.
As I’ve been going along I’ve been sharing some photos to Facebook. One of my cousins mentioned above informs me that the amazing wedding photo is of another of my cousins, who I’ve met once or twice in my 40 years of life. My mother suggested I mail her the original and tell her how much I love the photo and the dresses. I think I will because as much as I love my position of memory keeper I’d like even more to be memory builder.
I once read something that said something like our ancestors are the ones who loved the idea of us. They are the people who loved us before we were even born. It’s such a fantastic thought, isn’t it? Perhaps as this project progresses I’ll get the chance to love some of characters in the photos in real life.