I have many fond memories of visiting my maternal grandmother and working on our family history. She took me all over her tiny town (population 8,480) to scroll through micro fiche and decipher faded handwriting in old books and documents at the library. She’d arrange for my great Aunt Ruby to take us to the family cemeteries that aren’t on any map and then wait patiently in the car, while I tromped around taking pictures of headstones.
My grandmother told me she enjoyed keeping me company and finding out what I learned about our family tree, but she was certain she didn’t have anything to contribute.
Last December, my grandmother died just shy of her 98th birthday. While helping my mother sort through some boxes a few weeks ago, we came across a collection of vintage greeting cards – Mother’s Day, wedding anniversaries, get well cards, you name it – my grandmother saved every one of them. She’d also saved her baptism certificate and the one for my grandfather (they were baptized as adults), my mother’s Girl Scout sash and badges, even a couple of U.S. Savings Stamp albums.
It’s been fun to sort and scan everything, thinking of ways to scrapbook these treasures and share with the rest of the family. I know I cringe when I see a Hallmark card priced at $4.99, but they’re not made with an ounce of the attention to detail I see in these old cards – layers of vellum and special die cuts, ribbon and embellishments. I can see why she couldn’t bring herself to throw them away. For a family historian, what a find! For a granddaughter, what a gift.
The image with this post is a scan of one of my favorite finds: a Mother’s Day card given to my grandmother by my mother, with her adorable, little girl penmanship inside, circa 1948. Someday soon, I’ll tuck this card into an envelope, along with a note for my boys to have long after I’m gone. I will tell them about my mother and her mother and the treasures that mothers leave behind – on paper and in photos, with their words and their ways, and the lives they have shaped, not the least of which are their children.
Happy Mother’s Day, Marmee!