Monday, December 19, 2016

truly the best gift ever

I don't normally get very personal here on this blog, but the very nature of Heritage Makers is personal.  I've had the opportunity these last few months to practice what I preach!

I lost my mom a year ago, and before she died she left me a few boxes of mementos, photos, etc.  She pretty much just tasked me with the responsibility of doing *something* with it all.  So I decided to make her life storybook using those things.

I've said (both here on the blog and in person to many people) {how therapeutic memory-keeping is}.  I truly feel blessed to have just experienced this for myself.

Losing a parent isn't something you're ever really prepared for (even when you sort of are via a diagnosis), and although I honestly felt peace at her passing, both because we had a good relationship and because of my faith, it's still hard.  However, as I went through the things she'd given me, I got to know and appreciate her in ways I hadn't before.  It was indeed a therapeutic and healing process for me.  And it was actually a lot of fun to put together.


I very literally felt healed as I went through the process of making this book.  I became more focused on what I gained from my mom instead of what I've lost.  I didn't feel the pain as much, and I felt more grateful, more whole.  There were pictures I had never seen before and stories in her letters I could appreciate.  I laughed, I cried, and I learned.  It was a wonderful experience.  I came away FEELING different.  I came away whole.  I came away not wanting to break down in tears when I thought about her passing.  I quite literally felt better.

I used {this beautiful Heritage Makers template} and then altered it to fit the story I was telling.  I scanned in a lot of items, too--letters, certificates, awards, thank-yous, etc.--in addition to photos.  I choose Heritage Makers for all the special things I create because of its high quality and the access it gives me to thousands of pieces of beautiful digital art for free.  Especially in this book, I needed to not have limits on what goes where on a page or how many pictures (or text) I can use.  It needed to be this personal.

This is my Christmas gift this year to my dad and my siblings (and their families), as well as my own family.   I hope it will be as meaningful, therapeutic, and wonderful for them as it was for me.


I love sitting down with this book when I miss her.  When I miss her, I feel loss.  When I open this book of her life, I smile and remember what I have--legacy, hope, faith, and love.  There are funny and interesting things in the book.  There are pictures and stories that give me a sense of belonging and peace.  This is really my go-to when I miss her, and it's such a gift!

Some day, all of us will have just our stories left.  What a privilege it is to be able to tell them and share them with those who love us.   

{Get started here.}

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2 comments:

CorieF said...

My first introduction to Heritage Makers was after my grandmother passed in 2006. I made a book of her life story and gave it as a gift for my dad, uncle and sister. We all LOVE that book! It was a fun process to go through her life photos, letters — even a scrapbook she made back in college in the 1930s! — and compile a history of this amazing woman. It's truly one of my most beloved treasures today.

Thank you for sharing this personal story on your blog. I hope you will share more! I love seeing how other people document their own lives, just as much as I love to read about ideas to document my own.

I'm glad I stumbled across your Twitter feed a while back!

Jennifer Wise HM said...

Corie, thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comments! I'm really glad you stumbled across my Twitter feed, too! :) Since posting this 2 1/2 years ago, I have indeed shared my personal experiences more at the blog. (Most of them are posted with the #familyhistoryfriday hashtag so they're searchable.) I really have had so many instances where--as you say--a family history or a personal connection becomes a treasure. It's life-changing.

How absolutely AMAZING that you have a college scrapbook from the 1930s. That would be such a prized possession. Thanks for sharing that here. I'm so glad you have that life story book. Those things really mean the world, don't they?

Sometimes I hear people say they "don't have time" to preserve their memories, photos, and stories, but THESE are the experiences that make my knee-jerk reply: "You don't have time NOT to!"

Thanks and for reading and leaving such a beautiful comment. :)