Family History

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 9.47.32 AMI’m not saying I was born to be a writer, but…

I’m told that when it came near time for me to be born, my parents wanted to include the birth announcement in their Christmas cards. Problem was, I stubbornly refused to be born on schedule. So they took a picture of my older sister and brother gazing into a bassinet and made copies of the snapshot, then waited for me to be born so they could hastily print up the particulars to include with the card. I no longer have a copy of the photo that went with it, but I do still have one of the announcement, which you see here. And all things considered, it’s fitting, don’t you think?

My husband and I are preparing to sell our home of almost 30 years (we moved in on March 1, 1984). Last week, we cleaned out the attic. Lots of stuff up there, even after the cleaning. But at least now it’s sorted out. We know what’s there and are making plans to redistribute it hither and yon.

One of the boxes I found contained some things of my dad’s. He lived here with us from May of 2004 through September, 2007 (passing away in February, 2008), and I thought I’d already distributed all his things. But one box, apparently, got missed. It contained an eclectic assortment of things, including a few photos.

Have you ever thought about all the generations who passed through history before there were cameras? Some of the wealthy sat for portraits, but billions of common people came and went with no likeness being made of them in any form. (And still do, in many parts of the world.) Family photos are a recent invention, historically, but what a treasure!

We often comment on how my second daughter, Shelley, was born tScreen shot 2013-05-05 at 5.05.08 PMo be a mother. From the time I brought my third child home from the hospital, she’s been obsessed with taking care of little ones. In that box of my dad’s things, I found some photographic evidence: check out these pictures taken at my parents’ house on Christmas of 1987, when our youngest was five months old. See how Shelley (the little girl with the braids who’s half cut off on the right edge of the photo) has her hand on the baby in this shot…

Screen shot 2013-05-05 at 5.05.20 PM… and is clearly practicing to be a mommy in this one.

(In the photo above, you’ll also see my brother Stan, my brother-in-law Frank, whom the photographer saw fit to decapitate, my husband Craig, our son Art in his daddy’s lap, and me in my pre-gray days. In the shot on the left, that’s my sister Holly sitting on the floor, apparently being scratched behind the ear by my brother’s second wife, Paula, who may have thought Holly was a cat. I’m really not sure what was going on there, other than Shelley commandeering the baby, as usual.)

Funny how when we’re kids, we think the world revolves around us; when we haScreen shot 2013-05-05 at 5.04.30 PMve kids, we think the world revolves around them. Then they’re grown, and we get to see the whole thing play out all over again. The baby in pink in the pictures above is my baby, Rustie, now 25 years old. Here’s a picture of my mama’s baby:


Daniel family autumn 2012And Shelley, the one who always wanted to be a mama herself? She is one, five times over. It’s sad that the newest additions to the family, Mikaiah and Zuri, will never know the history of their birth families. I pray for their birth mamas (if they’re even still alive), that God might comfort them with the reassurance that their precious babies are safe and loved and cared for. I’d love to meet them someday. Better yet, I’d love for them to be able to meet their children someday.

I appreciate my family history and am happy to pass down the memories and memorabilia to succeeding generations. I have a vase (no picture, sorry), that for a long time was stored in a box labeled “Great Grandmother Rex.” For the past 15 or so, it’s resided in my curio cabinet. There’s no manufacturer’s stamp on the bottom, but there is a date scratched in: 1796. One day, I expect my heirs will get that vase; but for now, I’ll hang into it.

The family artifact I value the most is a Bible that belonged to my mother’s uncle (who adopted her when she was three months old). It’s well worn and has notes written in it, so I know he loved it and used it. I’m also told that he sometimes stayed up all hours of the night praying for a wayward son.

Now that I think about it, it’s not my uncle’s Bible I value; it’s what it represents. The invisible legacy of faith, the fragrance of all the prayers. That’s what I want my children to inherit and to pass along to their children. It’s an inheritance no one and nothing can take from them, and it can be theirs regardless of the circumstances or place of their births.

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