Do you know what a heritage album is? In short, it’s an album you make of photos of your ancestors. I did my first one last year. We took a trip the summer before last down to Southern California. While we were there, we dropped in on dh’s dad. We hadn’t seen him in years. Paul’s parents divorced when he was young and he was raised by his stepfather. It was an interesting time as we spent several days there really getting to know them for the first time. Chuck (Paul’s dad) had saved a lot of photos of his mother and her sisters from when they were young. They were in the proverbial shoebox, sitting there not being enjoyed by anyone. That had to change!
We spent an afternoon sorting through them, with Chuck trying to recall who the people in the photos were, and whether there was a story behind them. His lovely wife, Beverly, wrote as quickly as she could as he relayed many long-forgotten tales. Some of the stories helped my husband make sense of his family and the things his mother had told him before she died; others were just interesting because of the time period. Some were hard to hear, like when his grandfather had gone to prison; still others made us smile at how little people really do change. It was an invaluable time connecting Paul and, by extension, our children to their heritage.
I sat down to scrap the pages. In a lot of ways, it was easier to do because I felt like I now knew Paul’s grandmother, Clara. The majority of the album is filled with pictures of her and her sisters. My favorite part of the album is an old love letter from Chuck’s mother to his dad. I transcribed it and gave it its own page. The final pages are done in a slightly different style, with just a few well-chosen photos of today. The past is tied to the present – and to the future. I sent the completed book down to Palm Springs and it was very well received.
For me, doing the heritage album was a window into my husband that was previously closed. It made me wonder how many more there are in there to open.