Monday, March 24, 2014

Project Preserve The Memories: The Introduction

Today we are launching a series of posts from our guest blogger Kristen Cairns. Over the next few weeks Kristen will take you on her journey into her family history, and inspire and instruct you on how to take the journey yourself. 

So… my parents are both only children, and I (as the ‘family scrapbooker’) have inherited ALL of the family photos. Which I love. Of course! What could be better than that? But this memory-keeping story starts much earlier than that.

Growing up as a child with no Grandparents, no Aunts, no Uncles and no Cousins was quite normal… to me. I didn't think it unusual, or strange, or lonely. It was just… normal. But I knew that this was strange to so many of my friends. Birthdays, Christmas and special occasions were spent with my entire extended family. My Mum, my Dad and my Brother. Yep – all of us, together. In one room. At one time. My whole family. Can you imagine?

And although it was normal (and completely okay by me) I do remember thinking “there is more to my ‘family’ than.” And I was right.

Before my Grandfather (my last remaining Grandparent) passed away when I was 11, I was always interested in the stories he had to tell me about growing up in the early 1900’s. I suspect that this nurtured my love of capturing family stories and recording them. I wanted the details – the who and the what – of every story.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I am ‘volunteered’ to scrapbook the precious photos of my only aged relative, a beloved Great-Aunt (who was more like a Grandmother to me). As a keen scrapbooker (although hopelessly about a decade ‘behind’) this wasn't all that surprising. Nor was it a burden. And by trawling through her photos, of a life well-lived, I grew to know her in a way that was previously hidden from me. The people, the places, the stories. And so I dedicated 18 months of my life to creating for her a beautiful album of her photos and stories. It was a long project. But it was a beautiful journey.

The photos that captured me most were the early ones. Like, 1800’s early. And the realisation that these are precious and need to be preserved! I am blessed today to be the owner of her beautiful albums now she has passed away.

But the thing that struck me, the thing that sticks with me to this day, is the reality that – had I not recorded those names those places and those stories while she was alive, they would be lost today. Never to be recovered. And that would be a shame. My life is richer for recording these. My children love to look through these albums and see the ‘who’, the ‘what’ and the ‘where’.

Fast forward a few more years…
And I find myself the recipient of all of my family photos. All. Of. The. Photos. Both of my parents are only children, so I have inherited ALL of the family photos. Take a moment to ponder this ;)

So while I have a huge tub of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s photos to work through, it is the biscuit tin and decrepit albums of tiny black and white photos that catch my eye. And my heart. These are the jackpot! THESE contain the stories I cannot retell myself. And so these will become the focus of what I have affectionately called ‘Project Preserve The Memories’. I want to do this while I still have both of my parents to tell the stories for me. So I can share them with my children and grandchildren in years to come. This is my gift to my children, the stories of those who came before them. My gift to my grandchildren, before they are even thought of (my eldest is 12 so let’s hope grandchildren are at least a decade away!!).

This is a labour of love. That I have embraced. And that I enjoy to the depth of my creative heart.


1 comment:

  1. Well, that's done it for me ... I am in floods of tears, but happy and proud tears. Kristen is my cherished daughter and I will be forever grateful that she has taken on this mammoth task, in her already very busy life. The albums that Kristen created for my late Aunt, some of which you will see over the coming weeks, are simply stunning and I can only imagine how beautiful her future creations, capturing our family stories, will be. I am so very proud of this immensely talented woman and her desire to preserve her family memories. Love you so much, Flos xxxx