I have been sitting on this post for a little while now. Partly due to our latest move, and partly because I wasn't sure if I ready to share this piece of me. After a lot of thought I realized this is too important not to share. So you remember how back in May I spent that really awesome week visiting my girlfriends and then ended it with surprising my step-mom for her birthday? That was actually the very first birthday I have ever been able to celebrate with her or anyone on that side of my immediate family in the 10 plus years that she and my biological dad have been married. While that in and of itself was pretty amazing, what took the cake for me that weekend, happened in the quite moments after all the festivities faded and the girls lie sleeping in there beds... or in Ames's case on the couch.
I love these quite moments, because those are where memories come alive, truth is discussed and laughter thrives. In our house this is when the adults break out the goodies we have been hiding from the kids all day and we shoot the breeze, talk about the past, tell stories or talk politics and philosophy. Where ever the night takes us!
On this particular night though the photo albums came out. You know me, I am a sucker for photos, so I was ecstatic! My Grandma is big into family history and has a TON of albums very carefully preserved (Score one for Grandma!). She has albums from Grandpa's days in the Navy and her days as a nurse, some of my great-grandparents and even a few further back. The really cool ones for me were the albums she had for each of her children growing up and then the ones for each of their marriages including all the grandkids, for our first few years anyways.
What I wasn't prepared for was the sucker punch of emotions that hit with when I saw what those albums truly held. You didn't see that coming did, ya? Neither did I....
As we flipped through the my aunt's and uncle's albums we smiled, laughed and asked my Grandma and Dad about the stories behind them all. Then out came Dad's album. Those held some real fun gems!
When the Grandma handed me the album that started with my parents wedding it was like the world stopped spinning.
As you may or may not know I come from a very complicated blended family background. My blended band of family awesomeness has been born of pain, love, guilt and many trials. To say that we are battle scared would be an understatement. These pictures would be one of those scars that I thought had healed long ago.
Up until that moment I thought there were no real photos of me as a kid other then the a couple picture of me as a baby, two or three my other step-mom has from elementary school and the handful I have starting in middle school. I definitely didn't think there were any of me with my Dad! One of the only memories I have as a 4/5 year old is watching my mother cut my dad out of our family pictures.
When I saw that album I stopped breathing for second and could barely contain my tears I so happy and so incredibly heartbroken, at the same time. Even now I can't keep them from flowing. The stories you hear being a kid caught the middle of a divorce, not mention multiple divorces over the years.... Words cannot express what it means to me to see that in the beginning we were actually happy once. We went on vacations. He got to hold me. Play with me.He did want me. He did love me.
I cannot stress the importance of caring for your images! Print them, Share them, Protect them! I was able to see what my Great-Grandparents looked like, because of the diligence of my grandma. I got to see my Grandparents on their wedding day. Most importantly though I got a true glimpse into my own childhood and a chance to heal, because of those beautifully kept albums.
Thank you Grandma for giving me that chance.