Friday, November 19, 2010

Family Memories - Part 1

I know I've basically fallen off the face of the earth, but I have good reason. For those of you who don't know, my mom passed away unexpectedly in September. I'm not ready to delve into talking about it much, but the extra hard part was that it was the weekend of my sister's wedding. In fact, she passed the morning of the wedding, and bravely my sister and her fiance went ahead with the wedding, as I'm sure my mom would have wanted. I've had lots of ups and downs and thoughts on the matter, but, like I said, I'm still not ready to share most of them yet.

In the meantime, though, my sisters and I have been sorting through my mom's things. Not an easy task when you realize that my mom was an only child of an only child, so she had a lot of history saved up - along with a lot of not-so-vital things, that of course we had to sort through.

Seeing all the old family paperwork and beginning to dig into the boxes upon boxes of memorabilia has been bittersweet. There were some albums we had gone through with my mom and gleaned some family stories, but there were people in some of them that she didn't recognize either. It inspired me to finally try to put together a family tree on ancestry.com. I resisted the free trial for a while, but then I figured I could find a fair amount in 14 days (the length of the freeness), and I have to say that there are some very cool records they give you access to. I even found a yearbook picture of my Grandma from her days at UC Berkeley.

I've also decided to try to scan as many photos as I can so that - especially with the old ones - we can enjoy them and make sure there's at least one other version that exists in the world. And if I can match them up with people in the family tree, then even better.
See, it's an odd thing not having an older generation of family anymore. And we're only talking on my side of the family, but it really hit me how young we've lost a lot of family. (And by "we" here, I'm referring to my sisters and I.) My mom's mother, grandmother, and step-father all passed away before or right around the time the oldest of us was born. And my mom's biological father she had a falling out with, and we only know him vaguely. My dad passed away in 2001, and his parents - whom we shared a lot of time with growing up - are gone as well.

The holidays are going to be tough this year. But it makes me all the more grateful for how close my sisters and I are, and also how all of our in-laws have a great sense of family as well, and how we've all been welcomed into their families as daughters-in-law.

But I've gotten completely off track. I really just wanted to share with you the most adorable letter I found in my mom's mother's baby book (where all these photos are from). Apparently my great-grandmother was fabulous at keeping scrapbooks (she got lots of practice in her numerous travels, including two cruises around the world). And she put into this baby book some photos, records of "firsts", and gifts, letters, cards, and telegrams she received upon the birth of her one and only daughter, Dorothy. And with that I leave you to the letter from one of my great-grandmother's close friends to an 8-mo-old Dorothy (my mom's mom).
Sept. 7, 1922,

Sweetest tiny girl: -

Seems to me you have discovered your Auntie Lyla's secret fondness for pretty "hankies" very, very early in your life. And I'm so glad! For the lovely one I found in Mother's package is one of the very prettiest. I have not use it yet. I'm saving it for some very state occasion. However when that occasion presents itself I'll just think every little minute or two, "Dorothy Jane's handkerchief."

You must thank your lovely Mother for buying it, and last for consenting to send it in with her gift. Also dear little woman child, thank her for the sweet card she made and wrote to carry your message.

I'm a very busy Auntie Lyla this morning so I mustn't write a big letter, but I will take time to tell you about my Genevive kitten. She is the roundest softest bit of grey fluff, and she is all curled up in my lap as I write this to you. I would love to see your big eyes sparkle, as I'm sure they would if you could but stick your tiny fingers in her fur.

Now I must thank you for your sweet remembrance of my birthday, and send such lots of love and kisses too.

Your loving
Auntie Lyla


Doesn't that just make you feel all happy and cozy inside? And now I can confirm that my family's love of kitties goes back generations!

All images are scanned in from the baby book, and the photos here are of my great-grandmother Hazel with baby Dorothy Jane, and Hazel's husband Roy. I love how he's casually got baby in one arm and a cigar in the other. They lived in Southern California near San Diego, so I'm assuming that's the area where these were taken. (And I have now confirmed that my sisters and I are 4th Generation Californians, 3 of those 4 generations from the Bay Area).

1 comment:

satsumaart said...

Chelsea, the photos and letter are so cool! I'm working on a book about my family history and I totally didn't think to check out ancestry.com, but after reading this post I will! Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving with loved ones.

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