Friday, May 18, 2012

My Inheritance, Part 2

I have to admit, the pattern cabinet as an inheritance was rather unexpected on my part - well, not totally unexpected, I guess, since I'm the only one in the family who does much with sewing clothing. Since then, however, I've received a second inheritance from my grandmother, and it was the one I was really, really hoping for.

A long time ago (I'm not even sure when), I gave Grandma one of those "Grandma's Album" journals that had blank pages with writing prompts as a Christmas present (I think it was Christmas). This little note is written on the first flyleaf:
Oct. 11, 1999 - Greta, Mother always told me it was an evil wind that blew no good. So maybe these sick bouts I have had for the last 3 months have had some good in them. At least, not being able to do anything else has given me a chance to write in the album. Grandma.
Most of the pages that follow are crammed full of content, ranging from family stories Grandma wrote out by hand, to pictures of my family going back to my great-grandparents and forward to my own children, to little notes and Valentine cards drawn by me, my sisters, and my cousins.

What a treasure! I knew Grandma had filled out the book, because she had mentioned it to me in person a couple of times, but I had no idea how much she had put in there. A lot of the content was also stuff I hadn't seen before, like a picture of my dad on his tricycle when he was maybe three years old. There are also pictures of things I had seen but forgotten, like the picture of all the clothes she had made for family members for Christmas one year.

The best part, though, are the stories. Some of them are short, like the one about her being "Marigold" in the senior play and having to cry a lot for the role. Others fill two complete pages with close-set handwriting, with little added notes stuck in catty-cornered with details she remembered after the fact. I knew the basic factual outlines of some of the stories, such as that Grandma and Grandpa got married and wanted to keep it secret for a while. But these versions of the story are more detailed than I ever heard them told, and it really brings the stories to life. Priceless, absolutely priceless, both as a granddaughter and as a writer.

I feel very fortunate in that I have stories from both my mother (she wrote a book - as a novel - about her early childhood) and now from my grandmother, from opposite sides of my family. I think it's important that someone in a family write down the stories - not just the "factual" stories, but the way the facts affected people. And both of these stories have something personal added to them; Grandma's is written in her handwriting and in her voice, and my mom's has wonderful little sketches she made of things like the sorghum cane harvest. Priceless.

Looking through the book this week, it was like visiting with Grandma again, even though she's been gone nearly 12 years.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

that is really cool!

Mary @ Colony Mountain Stitcheries said...

What a wonderful gift! It is so fitting that you should have this since you were the first grandchild.