Tuesday, February 23, 1999    


Scrapbooking For My Grandmother

By:Jenna Beegle, Woodstock, GA

I started scrapbooking for the same reason most of us do - I have kids and I thought it was a fun, creative way I could preserve their childhood. But it has become so much more than that for me.

My grandmother was one of my favorite people in the world. She had the gift of listening and of making you feel that you were the most important person in the world. She was willing to advise, but not to criticize. We all know how rare that is. A few years ago, she got cancer and I think we all felt that the family was going to end somehow. She kept going, though, and kept us going. She beat that cancer, but two years ago, another came. It was awful to watch and feel so powerless.

So, now you're wondering what this has to do with scrapbooking. I was full of enthusiam for scrapping and so, two Christmases ago, I offered to redo one of her old, unsafe albums, for Christmas. She had been married to a photographer and so she had tons of gorgeous pictures. It was a pleasure and a joy to work with them and to get to know a whole side of her life I wouldn't have. She went everywhere and did everything and I felt like I got to as well. She loved that album. In fact, she asked me to redo her other albums for her.

Over the next seven months, I really concentrated on that. My own albums were far behind, but every time I'd bring her a completed album, she was so happy that it made my life better, too. When someone has a terminal cancer, you really can't do much for them other than be there. So, for me, being able to make her happy was a blessing. While she was in 1955, sharing stories about the pictures, the cancer and the rest was far away. I felt so grateful for being able to do that for her even for a minute.

By April, we could all see that there was a real limit on how much more time we would have her. I had read the article in Creating Keepsakes about a tribute album and decided that Mother's Day would be the perfect time for it. I sent out cards to the family, got them back and mixed old pictures with new to create a happy memory for us all. Everyone hung over her shoulder reading the cards and commenting on the pictures. She thanked each of us. The next day, she called to tell me it was her favorite gift ever. I told her I couldn't have done it without her.

When she died in August, it was the greatest comfort to me that we had told her how much we loved her. She always knew, of course, but the telling is important. I kept redoing her albums, until her death. She loved every one and when I can, I'll do the rest. I became family archivist, somethng I enjoy immensely. I organized her collection of photos that were not in any order. I arranged slides and negatives and had prints made. Somehow, it gave me something concrete that not only needed to be done, but that I could do well. Scrapbooking has helped me deal with the greatest grief of my life so far.

Christmas seemed likely to be grim last year, but you can't skip that part of grieving. I worked on old family photos, telling the history of her family. The heritage album gave my family something to think about other than what we missed. We could think about what we have been lucky enough to have had.

The process goes on. I have more pictures to include, albums to plan and a way to deal with things. For my family, as well as for me, scrapbooking has been a blessing. And I hope it will be for the rest of you, too.

Tomorrow at dMarie Daily: FOR THE LOVE OF ERIC, by debbie c.

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