Posts Tagged With: family history

the view from here

The last two days, I feel like I’ve been in seriously great Momma mode!
Y’all, I’m so blessed to be my daughters mother. They are incredible women, and my love for them is unconditional and limitless!

Yesterday Thing 2 and I talked for a while for the first time since my birthday. I assisted her in some important decision making, and provided over all Momma love and support. That girl is made of some seriously sturdy stuff, but sometimes needs help remembering. It’s hard when you feel like you have to do everything on your own. Being reminded you have loving, supportive people in your corner helps get you out of your head and provides a fresh perspective on everything.

This morning Thing 1 was feeling a bit overwhelmed by her own great and arduous task of packing her house. I asked if she was needing assistance planning or simply needed to be heard. She was all about the help.
So I suggested she start with a list (I mean of course I did, I’m the freaking List Lady after all!). I suggested she plan out what needs to be packed and then create a timeline.
Of course Baby K is like, WTF mommy? when Thing 1 is trying to pack instead of playing. I know that’s hard for both of them.
But I was struck with an idea!
What if Thing 1 actively packed for only twenty minutes each hour!?! She may not feel like she’s accomplishing much, or even finish packing one box, but she might feel less overwhelmed, and Baby K won’t get her diapie in a twist at being ‘ignored’.
Set a timer! Crank the music! Make a game of it! Baby K will love that, and Thing 1 can get things done without too much stress.
And, if she does her twenty minutes at the top of each hour, they have that last forty minutes to play together!

And in this house…
Yesterday afternoon, I opened one of the bins YBW and I pulled out of the utility room.
It was labeled with the names of my grandparents followed by the words family info.
So I was pretty much expecting all the genealogy stuff my mother complied in her lifetime. That was what I remembered putting in the bin after going through all the stuff my mother’s husband gave me five years ago.
But damn if I didn’t surprise myself!
In that bin was more so much more than the genealogy information.
Some random af stuff I didn’t know what to do with when I initially received it, but felt comfortable deciding yesterday.
Grandaddy’s harmonica.
My mom’s passport in which I too am in the photo as I was in her belly.
My grandmother’s hand written birth certificate.
And this (these?) gem(s).

I was able to divide and conquer everything, saving some things I want the girls to see before I dispose of them, and only had a small discard pile.
Of course now I have a stuffy headache from the mildew that clings to some of those items. It’s worth it.

Today I’m kind of being quiet. That is, not really doing much. Some writing. A bit of tidying. A bit of ridiculousness…
YBW is working from home this week so I went in there and said, You have a minute? He turned to give me his undivided attention.
Me: Wanna know how old I am?
YBW: Forty nine.
Me: Yeah, but not in chronological time.
YBW: …
Me: I think I need a neckchain for my reading glasses.
YBW: smiles but says nothing…
Me: If I’m wearing a pony or bun-bun I can’t put them on top of my head, they fall off.
YBW: serious face but silent…
Me: Is that ridiculous?
YBW: Not if me in my shorts and tee, and socks and slippers, and hoodie isn’t too ridiculous.
Me: I love everything about you.
YBW: Me too, baby.

Good Lord, we’re ridiculous!
At least each of us thinks this about the other.

This afternoon I’ll be focusing on organizing music, doing a bit of research on brain health and mental illness, and shopping for some stylish chains for my reading glasses.
Can you handle the excitement?

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I wanted to share the stories

Tuesday last I went to the PO to send out all the photos I sorted for my friends and family.
I sent five large first class envelopes, three bigger priority mail padded envelopes, and one big priority mail box.

The first text came from my cousin Chris at 11:32 Thursday morning.

Bless you Robyn! Bless you. Just got the pics you sent me. Brought some much needed happiness, and a tear to my eye. Love you.

The second text came the same day at 5:02 from his sister.

I got the pictures. Thank you so much. Perfect timing Chris is coming over tomorrow.

The third text I got was from Sally at 5:11 Thursday afternoon.

Who are the other two folks?

I got Nicole’s text at 3:24 on Saturday.

We are loving all the pics! Thank you!

At 5:40 this came from Kristen. She taught second grade to both my girls. When Thing 2 was in her class, she had her first child. We saw them frequently. With the aid of social media we stayed in touch all these years, and she was here to celebrate with us last summer at the party for Baby K!

What a surprise!!!! Thank you!!!

He’s checking himself out (heart emoji)

I heard from Becca later Saturday evening at 8:18.

OMG!!!! Loved it!!! Thank you (with a bunch of smiley heart emojis)

Sundance got quarantined away from home, so her package is at her house waiting for her.

And the big box was delivered to the Things father, but I haven’t heard anything. I mean, not that I expected to. But I keep thinking, now I regret being kind to you.

Thing 1 said, “Momma, never regret being kind.” and she’s right.
None of these packages were about me. About the response I got for sending them.

I sent photos to my friends and family because I wanted to share the stories.
Their kids were babies in some of these photos. The stories of their whole young lives caught in these images. I wanted to share those stories, those memories with their families.
I absolutely adored going through these photos. The stories they told came back in vivid detail. Jogging my memory of other stories. I spent a few days reliving my daughters young lives. It was a sacred place to be.
It was also bittersweet. This part of our lives is past. And dwelling too long there would be less precious and more painful with every passing moment.
The time I spent revisiting my life, the lives of the people I love was a beautiful gift. I’ve sent off photos to my friends and family so they can revisit their own journeys. I find myself ready to once again look forward.

I’m pleased to be finished with that portion of the process. I look forward to the time when I can be with each of my girls and go through their boxes of photos. Sharing memories, stories, laughter, and maybe even tears.
In the meantime, I have the last two boxes. These are more photos from my past. Some of me as a child. Some from the collections of my parents and grandparents.
They feel less fun to me. Though, I remain hopeful that I’ll find pics that tell a story I don’t remember. Or one the girls don’t know so I can share with them.

I do still have a box of photo CDs to add to one of those external hard drives. Though, I’m not in a big hurry to get after that. I need a break from my life as a young mother. I don’t want to feel that bittersweet feeling. That pull of the past.

Those CDs will be there. Sitting in that box. Waiting patiently until I’m ready.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

knowing and telling of stories

In case you were wondering the status of the great and arduous process, here’s an update.
This is what It looked like when I finished through 2002.

Each of those boxes was chock full of photos.
I finished the preliminary sort and purge, and returned to those boxes only the photos about which I wanted to share stories. Or photos I wanted the girls to be able to decide what to keep and what to purge.
There are five finished boxes, in those boxes, I sorted the pictures into the following categories.
Thing 1 only
Thing 2 only
the Things together
me
Mommie, Daddie, and Grandaddy (yeah, all in one box, but I only had five)

Of course then I had to bring the rest of the boxes upstairs.

At this point, I’ve gotten through 2004. I haven’t looked at photos since Saturday last. I needed a break this week.
As I sort, if it’s for one of my girls, I write the year and who’s in the pic on the back. First and last names and where the photo was taken if I know. That’s to help jog their memories.

In addition to sorting out photos for the girls, I’m setting some aside to be sent to other people. My intent is to box these up and put them in the mail just as soon as I finish the initial sort and purge. I’m only writing the date on the backs of these.

From left to right, these stacks will be sent to the following people:
Becca
Nicole
the next two are for my cousins
Brooke
Sundance
Sally
the Things father

Grandaddy was on each of these ships.
Either in WWII or Korea.
With a teeny bit of research, I was able to verify which ship was which and label accordingly.
This Golden Dragon thing was kind of cool, I just wish I knew more about it.

I have all his Navy information in a container in the basement. I’m hoping to connect each ship with his time on it, as well as locate his ribbons, dog tags, etc. and compile all that information in one place. For what purpose? Well, in the meantime, just for me. If at some point Thing 2 wants it, yay!, if not, equally yay!, it’s her choice.

It’s interesting to learn more about the man who raised me. He never talked about himself, or his life. As far as we knew, he didn’t exist until the day I was born. He was simply Grandaddy. My mom didn’t talk about his life either, or her own. I grew up knowing practically nothing about the people who raised me.
I tried to do that differently when I became a mom.
I want those girls to know who I am and why. That in addition to being their Momma, I’m a girl. A human being with thoughts and feels and plans and dreams and a sense of humor and flaws. And love.
Knowing and telling each other’s stories is so important!

I’m planning to go back to the photos this coming week.
But today, YBW and I are going to set up the porch! After his cleaning and protective sealing of the porch a couple weeks ago, I purposely waited. I wanted to let the pollening happen before we set it up for porch life. But I’m tired of waiting! I’m looking at the oak trees and realize I simply don’t have the patience to outlast them.
We’re going to set up rugs and furniture and umbrellas today.
Then I’ll be able to go out and porch life whenever I please!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

what story is more important than this

These are the thoughts that hatch as I go through seventy plus years of family photos.

It comes down to being the last living person who has any real understanding of some of these photos, and people. My girls knew my parents, but only in the capacity of children. They didn’t know Grandaddy at all, even though Thing 2 is named for him.

I’m trying to pare down photos of my Grandaddy, mom, and dad, and keep only what tells a story. And then share those stories and let Thing 2 decide how she’s going to proceed. I don’t want her to have to sift through photos and wonder who’s who. Who’s important. Or that she should feel obligated to keep them without being able to answer those questions.
I don’t want her to feel guilty about parting with anything she doesn’t like, want, or understand.

I’m being mindful about each photo I touch. I’m saving much more than I’m actually inclined to, simply because I want to give Thing 2 the opportunity to touch these same photos and see if they mean anything to her.
One example is a letter my great uncle sent to Grandaddy and my grandmother in 1948. My mom was about to celebrate her 3rd birthday and my great uncle was sending pics of being in the army. That was what actually initiated the four and a half hour call to Thing 2. I’m saving all correspondence for her now, so she can see the handwriting and photos and make her own choices.

This process is helping me feel close to my family, but also picking at the scab of grief.

My Grandaddy died in 1992.
I miss him every single day. Not purposefully, it’s just there. A part of me. In my skin. It’s comforting and a sad at the same time. He has always been a part of me and always will. He was my first love. The one who helped me see that love didn’t have to be cruel and conditional.

My mom died in 2011. Mostly I’m relieved I can’t disappoint her anymore. But there are times when I miss the idea of her. Sometimes you just want your mom, even though you know she won’t actually bring you any comfort.
A part of me wishes she could see Thing 1 be Baby K’s mom. But only as long as she kept her criticisms to herself.

My dad died in 2014.
I miss him. The relationship we were building in the last few years of his life. After he came out he was different. Like, he had spoken his truth and could breathe freely for the first time in his life. He loved YBW and was building a strong friendship with him. He was becoming a wonderful grandfather to nearly adult girls and they loved that. I find myself still thinking, Oh! I should call Daddie and tell him…

Going through these photos is helpful.
I feel that twinge of missing them. But I feel peaceful in that.
Seeing pics of Grandaddy in his whites. Or wearing a red wig and making crazy faces.
Or my parents when they were young and actually thought they loved each other.

I want to share as many stories with Thing 2 as I can remember! I want her to know her family.
I’ve got a million photos of me as a little girl, teen, etc. I look so forward to sharing those stories with her!
However arduous this process may be, I’m so joyful to be going through it.

I look forward to sharing stories with her about her childhood. The ones she doesn’t remember. I’m hopeful seeing and touching these photographs will trigger some of them for her. If not, I’ll tell her everything I can remember.

Thing 1 said it wasn’t as much that she didn’t care about the photos as it was she didn’t want to go through thousands of photos to find the six she wants. I’ve solved that problem for her. She can go through hundreds to find the six she wants. I want to share stories with her too, but she remembers so much more than Thing 2 simply because she has three more years of life.

I found this photo of me. Homecoming 1989 maybe?

I sent it in the girls group chat and said, Hey, your momma was kind of a hottie.

How’s that for a story?
Is it only with the power of hindsight we begin to truly see? To truly understand?
I don’t know. But I want to share these stories and these photos with the people I love. I want them to be meaningful and maybe even powerful.
This is us.
This is our life.
This is our history.
What story is more important than this?

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the great and arduous process

Tuesday I brought the first five boxes up from the basement to the Nest to begin what I’ve decided to call ‘the great and arduous process’. Otherwise known as going through the last three decades of photographs. By bringing them upstairs, I’m able to use all three of my work desks to sort instead of sitting in the floor downstairs.
Score 1 for me!

These photos are sacred.
They’re my life.
The lives of my children.
The lives of my parents, and grandparents.
It feels important for me to celebrate these lives. So, I pulled out a champagne coupe and popped a bottle of bubbly.

This was meant to be a Thing 2 and Momma task, but Thing 2 isn’t coming because the world is currently safer if we stay in the place we are.
I’m doing a preliminary purge and sort. I’m working to be mindful about what I keep and why. Then she and I will do it again when we’re able to be together.
She loves photos, and the history behind them. She will be the one who carries that on when I leave this world, and I’m content with that.
About an hour and a half in, I called her to ask a somewhat unrelated question and we stayed on the phone for four hours, thirty-four minutes and eighteen seconds.
We laughed, we cried, we talked and told stories.
So, in a way, we did start this project together, if only for a little while.

My friend Holly asked me what was my end goal.
I didn’t actually have an answer for her.
But after thinking on it a moment, I replied: I think really just keeping what we want and letting go of the rest. Thing 2 will help make that decision. She’s going to pick up the mantle of being the keeper of photos at some point. Thing 1 already said doesn’t care about them, so it will really come down to what Thing 2 wants to do. I’m trying to be mindful about what’s going to be important to and for her. I want to avoid her having the ‘deal with’ them when I’m gone. If she’s involved now, we can decide together what’s important in the long run and what’s immediately important.

I look forward to the joy of sharing more stories while we hold photos in our hands.
That’s powerful stuff.

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saying goodbye

I survived the twenty two days between the death of my dad and his memorial service.
I celebrated YBW’s birthday two days after he died, the arrival of Thing 2 on Mother’s Day, my own birthday the following day, Thing G’s confirmation the end of the same week, his birthday the very next day, the arrival of my estranged brother from the west coast, the arrival of Thing 1 and her fiancé two days later, and finally the memorial service yesterday.

Sundance says I’m a big brave girl and need new shoes…I got new shoes for the service, but I don’t think that’s what she had in mind…shoe shopping is on the agenda.

Yesterday was a very difficult day and the love I received truly held me up when I needed it most. Friends and family who came to grieve the absence of my dad from their lives were there because of the love they had for him. Friends and family came to support me in my grief because they love me. Family I have because of YBW, his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, who are mine now too, Things C and G’s mom and her husband, they all came because we are family now. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my dearest friends from my ‘old’ preschool teaching days sneak into the back of the church, she came because she loves me…that’s the moment my tears began to flow.

The service was actually quite lovely, when I spoke of my dad, there was laughter and tears and love in that room. I hope I made him proud.
The pastor mentioned Daddie told him he was going to be disco dancing up the aisle after his hip healed…that will never happen, but I feel sure he’s dancing his ass off wherever he is.

I am exhausted but peaceful.
I am lifted up by love.
I am glad it’s over.

5.24.14

Categories: death, loss, love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a hole in the ground creates home for something

I dragged YBW out to my dad’s house Sunday to dig up tons of plants and bring them home to our yard. Forsythia, mock orange, lilac, weigela, sweet shrub, and a deep garnet red peony came home in two vehicles. The forsythia and lilac originally came from my yard when I lived here long ago, the sweet shrub from Grandaddy’s where I grew up, the weigela from yard at Great Grandma’s house. So in addition to having all these new wonderful plants for our yard, there are special and important family connections.

I’m so excited to get these into the ground here, this home I share with YBW is his, was his home with the Things’ mother, though I’ve been welcomed into it, and things have and are changing to make it YBW and Robynbird’s home it will be wonderful to feel as though I’m connected to the plant life here.

We walked a goodly amount of the three acres in the warm sunshine with three big Boxers following us wherever we went, stopping to dig when we found what we were looking for. I’m quite gifted with a shovel and together we able to gather up just the right amount of plant and root to give them the best chance transplanting at this time of year.

After all was said and done and we had the back of my car and my dad’s pick up loaded, YBW and I were walking back up to the house so we could gather our things to go home and I hugged him and said, “you didn’t know what you were getting into, did you?”
To which he replied, “Baby, when I decided to marry you, I knew what I was getting into.”
I giggled and kept walking…I believe him, you know? I believe he is absolutely prepared for whatever life with me brings.

What it brought this weekend was an enormous load of plant life waiting in our back yard to be put into the ground in its new home.

plants from Daddie's

What it brings in the future…well, we’ll just have to see about that.
I know we’re both ready.

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