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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Keeping Memories Alive

My parents on my wedding day
I was paging through the September issue of Family Fun magazine a week or so ago when I came across an article that made the breath catch in the back of my throat. This month’s creative solutions article, titled “A Day with Grampy” so spoke to something I’ve been longing for that it brought me to tears, and I have to admit I’m getting teary just writing this post.

I’ve mentioned before in passing that I lost my father to a heart arrhythmia five and a half years ago. It’s a day that will always be crystal clear in my mind, and yet there are days when it still feels unreal to me.

The day my daughter was born was - without a doubt - one of the happiest, most awe inspiring days of my life. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of Dad and how happy and proud he would be, what a wonderful grandpa he would make, how sad it was that Sweetpea would never get to know this wonderful man. In her article, Shelley Abreu describes the day of her daughter’s birth as “joy mixed with a deep sorrow”, oh how I can relate to that feeling.

From the day I found out I was pregnant, I’ve been thinking about ways to help Sweetpea know what a wonderful man her grandpa was, about ways to make him real to her. In her article, Shelley helped me find a way, and I am so thankful and excited.

“A Day with Grampy” was born as her way to help her daughters get to know their “Grampy” - through a series of cards describing her memories, stored in an old suitcase. Her cards included photos, recipes, stories and mementos, all describing her father in vivid detail. What a wonderful tribute to him and his life, what a wonderful way to bring his memory to life for her children!

Sweetpea is almost 18 months old, and I plan to start working on her “Grampy” cards now. When she is old enough to understand, I will have a nice, well thought out stack of cards to show her. I plan to ask my family and a few of Dad’s friends for ideas. I think this project will be good for my heart, and I can’t wait to introduce Sweetpea to hear grandpa.

Do you have traditions or stories you tell to help your children learn about relatives or friends who are no longer with you? If so, I would love to hear about them!

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mommy2twinkies-Deb said...

I think that is a lovely idea. My grandmother died last year (11/12/07) at the age of 91 1/2. My daughter, has her name as her middle name. Although my Grandma had the pleasure of meeting the twins, I can't wait to tell them stories about her. I really like your card/suitcase idea. I'm thinking of a book. We'll see. I'll let you know how it comes out.

Milk Mama said...

That is such a wonderful idea! And I love that photo--how your mom is looking so lovingly on your father. It's so sweet!
So far, the only person close to me who has died is my brother. Anna really is too young to understand anything about death or my brother, but some day I'll teach her about him.

Muthering Heights said...

That sounds like an excellent idea to share your cherished memories!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Can't wait to hear about how your book turns out, Deb!

So sorry to hear about your brother, Milk Mama.

monica said...

My mother in law died when my son was 3 so he doesn't really remember her. This is a good reminder to talk to him about her.

Mimi said...

That sounds lovely! My childrens paternal Grandmother passed away when my babies were 4 years old. We travelled overseas to her funeral. Ever year, we celebrate her birthday and include her in our Mother's day plans. We have planted her favorite flowering shrubs in memory of her, and we talk about Gram's favorite things and how proud she would be of their accomplishments all the time. Luckily, we still have paternal granpa and maternal Grandma and Grandma in their lives.

Jen said...

I saw the article in Family Fun magazine and thought it was great. I like the idea of bringing the memories into everyday activities. We don't have anything like that yet - mostly I'll talk about my grandparents around holidays as I remember things we used to do together.