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:
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!