My mother never threw out anything that her children made or gave to her. By that I mean all of the drawings, snowflakes cut out of construction paper and especially all of the lovingly created greeting cards that my sister, brother and I made for her.
I found all of these treasures a few years ago in a box in my parent's basement. Yellowed and tattered with age, these little mementos represented all the special moments in her life - Mother's Day, Christmas, birthdays and more. These creations also chronicled her children's lives as they grew from toddlers to school-age children to college students. Some were drawn with thick crayon lines, others were written in pencil on Big Chief tablets. And later, scrawled in ink on cards.
To my mom, these notes and cards were as special as if they had been created by a world renowned artist and she held them dear because she knew they came from our hearts.
In this box of memories were also report cards, programs from recitals, concerts and plays, early newspaper articles penned by a fledgling writer, poems and prose and sonnets written for one high school class or another.
My mom was also a dedicated scrapbooker. She didn't do anything fancy like people do today with colorful backgrounds, lettering and stickers. She simply kept a wonderful guidebook for our family with every photograph labeled so future generations would know that the man in the pipe and straw hat was Uncle John or the woman wearing the apron in nearly every photo was Nana.
She had 10 volumes of thick albums that ranged from her childhood in Des Moines through the war years when my Dad served as a corpsman in the South Pacific. She had photos of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighborhood children and children of friends. There were photos of my sister on horseback, photos of my brother as an Eagle Scout and pictures of me in school plays.
I think that nearly all of the photos we have of my immediate family are digital - either on a camera or computer. Now instead of labeling the backs of photographs, you "tag" someone when you post a picture to Facebook. My brother has even converted all of Mom's old photo albums to digital formats, which is kind of ironic I guess, but much easier to share amongst the family. Instead of paging through an album, you can swipe through a digital album on your phone or computer.
I'm grateful that my mom kept all of those special memories and took such care to pass them along. I hope that I can keep up the tradition. We've told Daniel quite a lot about his Grandma Polly. Though she died when he was less than a year old, she did get to spend some time with him. We have this really wonderful photo of her holding him not long after he was born. She had Alzheimer's Disease, but in that photo, her eyes were sparkling and her smile seemed to show that she knew the little bundle was her grandson.
I've got a box of mementos started for Daniel, including that special photo. Hopefully, he'll share those things with his children as he grows older. Happy Mother's Day.