My sister and her daughter and granddaughter came to visit me last week. My niece is researching our family history and wanted to pick our brains and copy whatever pictures we had of our parents and grandparents.
When my parents died, my sister and I cleaned out their house and divvied up what we wanted to keep and donated the rest. The only thing we had a problem with was several photo albums containing pictures of us as children and my parents and their families. Neither one of us wanted to throw them away, but neither one of us wanted to cart them home. That was about 15 years ago. I won the albums and duly carried them home and packed them away.
Then my sister calls about two months ago and said in an ominous voice that her daughter was coming, in July, to make copies of several framed portraits I have of my parents and that she wanted to see the albums. She said her daughter was not happy with us as we did not seem to be good record keepers and did not have the information she wanted or needed. Her daughter is into this ancestry thing and even traveled to England to trace her father's family tree.
I kind of ignored her pronouncement for about a month and then began to worry where I had put those picture albums or even if I still had them. My sister said I would have to endure the wrath of her daughter if I did not find them or if I had thrown them away. I protested and said at least I had saved the albums to begin with because my sister had not wanted to keep them at all. I was putting off the inevitable, having to search for those pesky picture albums; you know the kind - on black paper with black and white pictures held in by little stickers on corners.
I searched in two chests in the living room, two chests in one bed room, a chest in another bedroom and the bottom of a closet, another chest and under a bed. One more chest, and then in the last chest I found them.
I called my sister so excited and told her I found them. I said they were in the last place I looked. She rather tartly, but sensibly, said it is always in the last place you look because you don't look any more after you find it. But she was just as relieved as I was that we had done something right and would please her daughter.
Not only did I find the picture albums, I found my mother's graduation composite - a picture in sepia with little ovals containing the pictures of everyone in her class. I was particularly pleased to find that because it settled the question of how to spell my mother's maiden name. (I know you Southerners who are obsessed with cousins and second cousins and in-laws are horrified by that confession. All I can say is I'm sorry.)
My niece said that we even put the wrong first name for my mother's mother on my mother's death certificate. My sister and I are horrible genealogists.
Anyway, the group did arrive and I was able to produce all the pictures needed. My sister and I reminisced and tried to fill in as much information as we could remember. It took a while but we did finally remember the name of my mother's aunt and her husband and son. (Again, in my defense, all of our relatives live in Massachusetts and we moved here more than 60 years ago and have not had that many occasions to visit relatives.)
While she was here, my sister wanted to see the columns which contained anecdotes concerning her and I showed them to her. She asked her daughter to scan them for her along with some of the pictures.
She thinks she deserves a cut of my salary or at least some recognition for being such fertile ground. She also said I made a mistake in the column about our marathon of addition and subtraction after our trip to Prague et al. I didn't owe her 50 cents, she owed me $2.40 and she didn't pay it because I made her spend all that time adding and subtracting when she said we were even. Record straight.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.