Feb 202013
Family roots

Roots: hidden, fragile, tangled, and often more than just a little bit dirty.

It was only after I stumbled over some of them that I started paying attention to my family roots. Now I spend a lot of my time looking for more of them.

My family tree looks nothing like the iconic oak with its rounded top and balanced, far-reaching branches.  One side is all filled out and well-rounded. We have information on our ancestors going back to about 1500.The other side is largely missing. “Roots” seems more applicable—hidden, fragile, tangled, and often more than just a little bit dirty. On my father’s side of the tree, we had precious little information, owing not the least to the fact that our grandmother was an orphan. Or so she claimed.

Its silhouette looks more like a willow that loses limbs in every storm than the archetypal oak.  The opposite was true of my mother’s side of the family;

For the intact, maternal side of our tree, my sister and I had two great sources of information. One was our amazing Aunt Ann and her thirty plus years of pre-internet genealogical research. The other was our grandmother’s Treasure Chest of Memories.

My Grandmother’s Treasure Chest of Memories:

Treasure Chest of Memories author Hazel Crymes

My grandmother with my cousin Harry circa 1983.

Written in a script illegible to all but my mother, her Treasure Chest of Memories was an old spiral notebook filled with a lifetime of her writings. Her entries ranged from humorous anecdotes to highly personal ruminations, good recipes, and wisdom she had gathered along the way.

As she approached the end stage of her breast cancer, Grandma decided to pass her Treasure Chest on to the next generation(s). My cousin Harry swore on all of our behalves that it would never be published, rather be kept only in the family. My mother painstakingly transcribed Grandma’s handwriting and presented each of her siblings and every grandchild with a folder of typed writings—our own copy of Grandma’s Treasure Chest.

A treasure it is! Grandma died in 1983, the year I graduated from college. I was not able to enjoy a woman-to-woman relationship with her in life, but through her memories, I connect with her, again and again, throughout the differing phases of my life.

In honor of my grandmother, Hazel Savoy Crymes, I hope to provide resources and inspiration to others, so that they, too, can  create a treasure of incalculable value for the ones they love.

Make your own Treasure Chest of Memories

Go ahead.  Share your treasures!

  14 Responses to “My Story: The First “Treasure Chest of Memories””

  1. […] I have my maternal grandma’s (Grandma Crymes’) “Treasure Chest of Memories.“  I also have box that my paternal grandpa had in during WWI. For decades, my Grandma […]

  2. […] grandmother’s “Treasure Chest” (see My Story: The First Treasure Chest) had many small gems for us as she described her grandparents. One detail that I love reading was […]

  3. […] piece about one of the homes of her childhood in her “Treasure Chest of Memories.” (See My Story: The First Treasure Chest of Memories.) She was feeling ill and used her writing as a distraction as she took her readers back in place […]

  4. […] In her “Treasure Chest,” my grandmother wrote an essay entitled “Things I Want to Remember.” In it, she briefly dwelt on her memories of each of her children. What makes this such a gem, however, isn’t simply a mother’s descriptions of her growing children, but rather the way in which she allows her readers access to those scenes in her memory as if she were leaving a snapshot in time. […]

  5. […] about these questions is truly a page from my grandmother’s book and it’s a page from which we all get tremendous enjoyment. Sometimes, instead of pondering the […]

  6. […] Of course, the upside is that we have many rich stories of the Clarks. Hazel knew them all well and wrote wonderful stories about them. […]

  7. […] decided to compare what I know about my second great grandfather from research as opposed to my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories.” I hope that it will bring home the importance of sharing and documenting family stories. You […]

  8. […] passionate about this topic because my grandmother left us such a legacy. You can do it too! Here’s why you should include writing about your personal stories in your […]

  9. […] passionate about this topic because my grandmother left us such a legacy. You can do it too! Here’s why you should include writing about your personal stories in your […]

  10. […] grandmother left us some great stories of her grandparents (see My Story: The first “Treasure Chest of Memories”).  Some of her stories were about their experiences during the Civil War. Others were stories of […]

  11. […] hindsight, I see that my grandmother, who wrote in secret throughout her life, was a source of inspiration. But using that term alone falls far short. She was the igniter of the […]

  12. […] the value of a family “treasure chest.” Once again, the beauty of my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories” washed over me and amazed […]

  13. […] this blog regularly, you know my grandma passed down a collection of memories and stories. (See The First Treasure Chest of Memories.) Not only did she include some basic description of who begot whom, but she also included stories […]

  14. […] mind, it doesn’t have to look like Martha Stewart’s staff put it together for it to connect.  My grandmother’s journal was barely legible (I’m not endorsing that, mind you), but we love it […]

Share your thoughts