Up a flight of tiny stairs, with a naked lightbulb as the only light, a long string to pull, however you have to get up the stairs and half way across the room before the light is found… It feels like tiny eyes are watching you and even if you just stepped out of the shower, you feel dirty.
You’ve just entered my grandmother’s attic.
Did I mention that it’s dark and dirty? Yes I did, but that really stands out to me in the memories of my childhood. And as scary as it was, with a huge mounted owl perching at the top of the stairs, his wing spread wide and ready to swoop down on any unwanted visitors, I loved climbing up those stairs to see what I could find in the unforgotten bedrooms of my mother and uncle.
My uncle’s room still had the posters of airplanes and models sitting on a broken shelf. There were empty strings where he had hung some of those planes he built. One wall even had the furry coat of one of the first squirrels he ever shot some 50 years before. Then there were the bird bones in the clutter and broken boards…like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds…forever trapped in a room just wanting to get out the creaked window.
Grannie’s attic was very much a mixture of The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe and Harry Potter (with the owl!). There was an old wardrobe in my mother’s bedroom and within its darkness, I found all kinds of treasures and within its cabinets I stepped through to a different world. The doll that had once rested on her bed was there, a little girl’s slip with ribbons and lace falling off, patterns of dresses for a young woman…and the scrapbooks.
Black and brown pages, decaying with touch, forever holding memories that a young girl cherished and wanted to preserve in some way. Postcards, newspaper clippings, invitations, Christmas cards, swatches of material for dresses made and memories worn. Page after page of dreams dreamed and life lived, reflecting through a camera lens, glue, scissors and pencils.
And now I must go through it all, I must decipher all the memories and decide what to keep and what to discard. How do you divide the memories equally between brothers and sisters? My brothers decided that I would be the keeper of all things black and white. I’ve been scanning pictures into my computer so that we can all have access to them, which has really been the easy part. The hard part is what to do with the scrapbooks. Is what my mother thought as important, important to me today?
Yes it is.
You see I have a heritage of faith and she tried to capture that heritage for me, long before my mother ever knew me, even before she had her faith. The snippets of her life in those scrapbooks are lessons learned of how to live a godly life. A young married couples’ first memories together, going to church, loving on family, a friend picking up thread and needle to make a wedding gift to be cherished in new homes, exploration and appreciation of the wonders God placed in odd places for courageous minds to find, the gentle touch of a mother’s hand against a newborn baby’s cheek, certificates of accomplishments and distinguishments….all these things are found in those books.
And I learn.
I learn what to cherish, what to show importance to, how to love on others.
Then I wonder….what will my children see within my pages of journals and photo albums? Will they open my computer and find all my blog posts and understand my heart? Will they see the struggle of a young girl to keep her life on track with what God had in store for her? Will they see a woman on a journey to become what her mother had become…a godly woman, praised above jewels, waking in the early hours of the day to provide for them, staying up at night to see them all safely home? Will the photographs be full of smiles and laughter even during the hard times? (Proverbs 31)
What I choose today as important, what I spend time on each day matters…not only to me and my relationship with God, but also on my children and their relationship with God. What my mother choose, shown in those scrapbooks and photo albums, was important, not only to her, but to me. I want my children to one day go through my attic and find that I left them a heritage that they can build on for their children.
Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. Keep His statutes and commands, which I am given you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time….Deuteronomy 4:39-40 HCSB