Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scrapbook Pages

I slide the picture of my maternal grandmother across the page, eyeing the background colors against her sepia tones. A butterfly and a few hearts, some paper lace and I’ve got a page in the scrapbook ready to go. Her picture is the oldest one in my family. Not sure who had the older ones.

More pictures are spread across the table with ribbons and paper flowers, canceled stamps, and rubber stamps and ink pad. Painted flowers and birds occupy one edge of the wooden structure, while scenes of Egypt and caves and sky-rich meadows grace another.

All are tools for the pages of this family album for my oldest son’s wedding. I want to give him a taste of his history. Most of the pictures he’ll have seen before, but a few of my earlier ancestors, he may not have.

This past week, unearthing photos from boxes and old albums has been like opening doors to old rooms. The stories in these rooms have infiltrated my dreams and I’ve been waking from situations first with one ex-husband, and then, the next night, the other. Both times they were like real experiences and I woke up feeling somewhat haunted. How much unfinished business might there still be there, I wondered throughout each day.

I choose the next picture. It one of my parent’s wedding, remembered stories leaking around the edges of my memory. Alongside I place black and white photos of my parents, each alone. My mother stands with the cigarette in hand that will lead her to emphysema years later. My father, squatting in the grass, is already balding a bit in his mid-twenties, and that process will continue through the years I get to know him.

There’s so much rich history and personal stories here, I think, as I turn to the next page, glue stick in hand.

This next page in the scrapbook is like Gene’s next page in his life. He’ll marry near his 47th birthday in a few months, into a ready-made family. Armed with this scrapbook, he’ll bring all of us along with him.


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