Precious Memories

Monday, January 16, 2012

The best Christmas present I got last month was the one I gave my mother.

I admit it. I gave my mother something I wanted myself. And I took it home with me rather than letting her keep it.

But Mama still appreciated the gift. That's because she believes in passing on memories, and my present allows her to do that.

My father took lots of slides as we grew up, so I gave Mama a machine that transfers slides to digital files. Daddy took this picture (as a slide) on Easter 1954, when I was three.

I don't have a slide projector and screen, and it's hard to divide one slide among three siblings, anyway. That's why the digital slide converter was the perfect gift for all four of us. It helps us share precious memories.

My parents did a good job preserving their memories for their children and grandchildren. My mother sought out and compiled a detailed family history going back to the early 1800s, when her ancestors were still in Germany. A family history rich in stories as well as dates. And Mama's memoirs tell about her life growing up. She didn't cover her adult years because my father included much of that information in his own memoirs, which became his vocation after he retired from the ministry. My father's family tree goes back to the 1600s for most branches, reaching into England and Canada. I wish I had more stories about my Daddy's early years and his ancestors (especially his Grandpa Gibson), but I still have a solid framework to pass on to my children.

The memories are skimpier on my husband's side. One of Roland's cousins several times removed put together an extensive family history for Roland's father's paternal side, and I am extremely grateful. Unfortunately, we don't have much of a family tree for Dad's maternal side or for either side of Mom's family. Dad didn't think his own life story was interesting enough to pass on, and Mom seems to feel the same way about hers. So I'm glad that we sat down with a tape recorder one Christmas and asked my in-laws a few questions about their early years.

Memories are precious, and once they are lost they can never be retrieved. So make sure you save yours and pass them on.

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