I’ve always been a person that like to keep bits and pieces of ephemera from every day life – as a memory. And on this past trip to England, I discovered that my grandmother was too. While sorting through the cupboards and drawers of my grandpa’s house, we found photos, letters, school records, birth and death announcements and clippings of hair. I felt like I was stepping back in time to when my mom was a child and my grandparents were young adults. I found pictures of my brothers and I that I’d never seen in our family albums, as well as, letters my mom wrote to her mom about life raising three kids. We found photos of my grandparents on their holidays in Spain and Italy. I had forgotten how much they traveled.
A few months ago, before my trip, Mike and I cleaned out a storage area we have above our garage and I found a couple of boxes that I hadn’t seen in years, maybe decades. They contained all the letters Mike and I wrote to each other while we were dating and he was away at college. There were also ticket stubs from movies we saw, postcards, clippings of Mike’s hair (I must get that from my grandma) and the blue plastic ring he gave me before he left for college. (That’s a story for another day)
The left picture is the letters Mike sent to me and the right picture is the letters I sent to Mike. I have an album picked out and will start putting these in date order. When I’m finished I hope to have a sort of story book of the years before we were married.
We started to read through some of the letters and spent an evening laughing our heads off at how much we had changed and at how much we were still the same. I will say we were very emotional at times in the letters, albeit dramatic, but we were young and in love and separated by 400 miles. We wrote consistently for 4 years and I’m grateful that I kept the letters because it documents us at the beginning of our relationship. We called each other every now and then, but long distance phone calls in 1984-1988 weren’t cheap so we did a lot of letter writing.
Since returning from England I’ve been on a mission to streamline our record keeping as well as my memory keeping. I keep a weekly memory album called Project Life and try to do a good job of capturing the ins and outs of our daily lives. I’m going to take my treasure trove of letters, put them in chronological order (we kept all the envelopes with the date stamp) and create a running dialog of our life back then. This way I can store the album on a bookshelf that is easier to get to than the storage loft. Documenting our lives is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but by looking through the photos and reading the letters, I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for.
We all have rich histories and stories to be shared. How are you capturing/documenting your memories?
Since you’re into this documenting thing at the moment, I’d like to request that a few pictures of me be destroyed. Particularly any pictures involving me wearing stuff on my head.