12.17.2010

Memory Fridays: The Importance of Memory Guardians.

While we were in Wisconsin last weekend, I asked Chris' mom if we could borrow some photos of Chris growing up. I'd like to make a little video for our wedding website, but had never seen pictures of Chris as a baby in Germany or a kid in Wisconsin or a grumpy adolescent in front of a computer. As a result, we spent a chunk of time last Sunday paging through albums and school projects, all filled with images of the man I love growing up.

What an interesting place it was to sit, next to people reminiscing about vacations and neighbors and family friends, when I knew none of the events or people involved. I was overhearing other people's memories and at some point it dawned on me that memory-sharing is one of the ways we enter each other's families.

Why is it important for me to know about the old woman who lived next door to Chris' family in Germany? Because one day my kids might ask about it. One day they might want to know where their dad spent a few of his early years, and who he spoke German with. And I'll be able to participate in that conversation now, even if I don't have those memories myself.

It's important to have a handle on all the family you can get your hands on. When my mom and I cleaned out my Nana's things earlier this summer (an experience I still feel too fragile to discuss on this blog), we found that she had saved the birth certificates, death certificates and confirmation certificates of my Pop-pop's parents and grandparents. She, the youngest of 11, had nothing from her own family. But she embraced the family she joined through marriage and held onto its legacy, held it tight so that her children and grandchildren could know it too.



What a great example of a guardian of legacy, of memory.

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