Tonight as I sat watching a documentary about the Battle of the Sommes I gave myself another reason for writing. I am writing for my family. My boys, my daughter, my husband...but also for my grandchildren that might be, and their children, and for their curious nature that I hope they will have.
I sat watching a story about two brothers that traveled from Newfoundland to France, in search of the final hours of one relative and where the other relative had his life changed forever. And they reconstructed the days based on a journal that the great uncle had kept. He had been a printer by trade, so a fairly educated man for his time, and he kept journals of when he went overseas and landed in France. His words, 90 years later were all that they had to go by, and what connected them all over the decades that had passed. They had a few pictures that showed some family traits, but his jotted words in old scribblers gave his family some history, some details of people who had come before them, and a connection.
I want to leave my children some details of days that they might not be able to recall to their memory, and my grandchildren some semblance of who I am, where they came from, and even what their parents were like when they were young. And while my words, and my story may only be mine....it will be something for them to feel connected to me, and to Tim, and because I, especially have nothing except six or seven photos of both my grandfathers combined, it feels like a gift that I will pass on. I wish I had more of my grandfathers...some words scribbled on a paper of what their days were like, or a video that captures some of their spirit, their mannerisms to see if my dad acts as much as he looks like his father....or if my sons gesture the same way their great grandfather did, or if they have the same ways of saying things.
I often wonder if my grandfathers would have liked me...would they have carried me on their shoulders, would they have smelled of tobacco or Old Spice? They have left me little to go by, so I have been left to wonder about what they were like, what they sounded like, and even what they looked like at different ages.
What I do treasure are the stories that my Grandma shared with me before I left Nova Scotia, and she settled into dementia about how she met my Grandfather, and what their life was like. And my Nanny, well, she was something else, and I think she often tried to make up to all of us for not having a Poppa in our lives. She did do something else...she kept journals, and years before she passed away she said that her journals were her way to keep connected with the day, and with the people she saw and the people that she talked to every day. I haven't read them since the year she passed away, but those words, those stacks of plain old scribblers are something that her whole family treasures.
About a month ago one of my youngest cousins sent me an email that broke my heart...and made me think it was time to pull out Nanny's journals. Makayla sent me an email wondering if Nanny(her great grandmother) had ever spoken of her. She had some faint memories of Nanny, but she wanted to know more about her....the part that broke my heart was that she didn't have any strong memories of Nanny. I was lucky enough to have Nanny there through my birthday parties over the years, the nights that I stayed at her house with kerosene heaters, and heavy quilts. I was lucky enough to be able to call to memory Nanny's voice when she said her prayers at night, and how well she made rolls and molasses cookies. I was blessed enough to have Nanny at my wedding, to come visit my boys when they were born, and I was blessed enough to share Nanny's last days upon this earth. And so, I will go searching in her journals in the days to come and search for words that she wrote about days that Makayla came to visit, or maybe even when she was born....and I will share them.
Our words can mean more then we ever plan, and more than we ever hope, and tonight, I realized, I will write for my family. My grandchildren...my great grandchildren..and I will write my memories for children like Makayla, because we all wonder where we came from. I discovered this picture of Nanny two years after she passed away.