When my grandfather’s health began to decline, the family decided that both my grandparents would be better off if they moved to a modestly sized, one floor apartment. Sadly this meant leaving the light blue colonial home they had lived in for almost 50 years.
I remember on countless nights and weekends my wife and I would go over and help pack up decades of cherished memories and mementos into dozens of cardboard boxes. It was a bittersweet occasion for me as the realization that their years here on this earth were not infinite.
While I was packing up a closet in one of their spare bedrooms, I came across a large photo album with a colorful patchwork print of varying flowers on its cover. I remember asking grams (that’s what I called her) what pictures she had neatly tucked away inside. She responded with a smile, “Why don’t you take a look.”
From the very first page I felt as though I were traveling into the past – as though I had just unearthed a time capsule, which had been buried in the backyard for years.
The entire album was dedicated to me. There were pictures of all shapes and sizes chronicling my life from birth up until the day I got married. But there weren’t just photos. There were newspaper clippings of contests I had won and a few articles I had published, playbills from shows I directed in college and even stage managed Off-Broadway and many other pieces of priceless memorabilia she religiously kept safe in this treasure chest of memories.
I consider myself honored that she thought so highly of me to make it a custom of saving every memorable event in my life under the clear plastic covering of a photo album page.
I’m sure if you visited homes across America today, you’d have a tough time finding such a collection as everything has turned digital.
But for me I still cherish overstuffed drawers and unlabeled shoeboxes with unorganized pictures of first days of school, family vacations, junior proms, candid baby shots, holiday gatherings, and the list goes on and on.
My grandmother’s collection of memories shows an obvious sense of pride at the legacy she and my grandfather created when they started their family many years. Far too often we forget about those who’ve come before us, securing our very existence and the opportunities we possess as we make our way through life.
We owe a bit of gratitude, respect and attention to those who provide our lives with a rich history – filled with continual sacrifice and struggles so that we may have a better tomorrow.
It’s easy to take your legacy for granted from one generation to the next. But as I will always be reminded whenever I flip through that cherished photo album from my grandmother, my legacy is in part thanks to her and those who’ve come before me. And thankfully she’s saved everything I need to prove that.