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 Photo & Story Treasures 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 a 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.  

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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  1. 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!

  2. 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. :)

  3. I'm sure your family members will enjoy receiving the books you made for them ♥ Thanks so much for linking up at the Unlimited Link Party 88. Shared.

    1. They did! It was so meaningful for all of us. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing, too, Dee. Much appreciated.


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