Years ago, when my grandfather passed away, I was given four albums that had belonged to his father. They were a combination of journals and old style scrapbooks...full of news articles, pictures, and little notes.
A couple of years after I was given these albums, I moved away from home for college. My room was cleared when I left and I was told by my mother that she'd thrown away a pile of old books. I was devastated. I hadn't really taken the time at that age to read those journals. But, I knew I wanted to one day. That day has come. I've spent years anguishing over the loss of those albums. I felt terrible guilt that they had been kept for decades by my grandfather, only to be lost in my hands. I take my duty, preserving family heritage, very seriously. I wanted to pass the journals onto my own grandchildren.
This summer, my parents decided to clean out their attic. They called on me to sort through a few boxes that had been set aside for me. Twenty years has passed since those items were stored away. I didn't know what I'd find. There were old report cards, school papers, and drawings. My biggest surprise came from a dusty bin with my name scrawled across it with sloppy black marker. There, in the bottom of the bin, there were four albums with aged paper. The words my great-grandfather took time to write down were now ready for my attention.
While I was sorting through the pages of the final five years of his life, this man I never knew came alive. I read all about life on the farm, his wife, how much he adored his kids...including my grandfather. I found a picture of my mother when she was a little girl. There are photos of my great-grandparents, a recipe, even a photo of my great-great grandfather cutting wood. I learned that most of the men in the family were very tall. My great-grandfather worked hard, right up until his death, plowing land and trimming trees. There is the story of almost running over his little sister with a roller on the farm. The newspaper clippings recount a time when people were miffed that penny postcards suddenly cost 3-cents and there was anger that the postal service had created this confusing "zip code" system that was bound to mess everything up.
Knowing that the zip code system eventually worked out just fine, I realized that people complain in the same way they did half a century ago. They still want the same things...a happy family, a steady job, merciful aging, and people want to be remembered. I also learned that the scrapbooking bug was born with me. There is a purpose behind this hobby. We all hope the loved ones we give our crafts to will enjoy them, appreciate them, and cherish them for years. Now, for the first time, I understand just how amazing it feels to have these albums. I feel connected to my heritage. I feel honored to have been trusted with these memories. I feel a bond with this related stranger. Most importantly, I feel relief. My great-grandfather has finally been heard. Keep scrapbooking. It is more than a hobby.