I have to say that recently we have been sorting the MIL's stuff, as we cleaned out her house. It is a tough job and now we are down to trying to catalog and integrate the stuff we are keeping with our stuff.
So we are looking at old pictures and remembering her and I am trying to put things in some usable order, as I want L & E to have a sense of their history. I think I am a bit too obsessed about this - but I think it is important to have a sense of where you come from. Adoptive children often spend years seeking out their birth families to have a sense of that history. Sometimes it is to establish a sense of medical history. Whatever their reason(s), history is important.
Both L & E have very small immediate families. H is an only child of older parents. He had no cousins very close to his age. Half of his family lives in another country. Not like one can be all that close. Now - perhaps with the advent of email and the phone - but when his family immigrated in the 60s - it was alot harder. Also none of his cousins overseas were close to his age.
Me? Well our story is one part small immediate family and one part dysfunction - of varying sorts. My grandmother traced her side of the family all the way back to England and Wales. She was very active in keeping the family lore - but sadly with her passing - the distant cousins drifted away. I was too young to really keep up. Now I fear it is too late. There are no reunions anymore.
My children will be left with some photos, some old Bibles and prayer books. Some stories that H & I share with them. I am taking them overseas to see my MIL's hometown this spring. I want them to know where they came from. That their family stories are that of conquering some pretty tough odds, of taking a pile of lemons and making some damn good lemonade. It is a story of taking your knocks and getting up again to stand tall and proud.
It is my hope that I can create that for them, by showing them the physical places that Oma and Opa walked. To show them where my grandparents grew up - along the Ohio River. I want them to know this. I want to feel that while no one did anything really big, no one was famous, that their history still matters. They were real people, with real problems and real opportunities. H's father came to this country for a better life after WWII and he found it.
Maybe over the next few weeks I will share some of their stories, they really do matter.