12 years ago, in a round about way, I gave myself the best gift I could ever give myself.
I just didn't know it at the time.
For Father's day in 2001 I got together with my brothers and sisters and we worked on a gift for my dad. Everybody wrote down random memories that they had of my Dad. Things they remembered from growing up, things they remembered as adults. It didn't matter when the memory was from it just had to be a memory specific to them, about him.
Once they had their memories listed they sent them to me and I typed them up and made my dad a scrapbook of sorts of our memories. Then I tied some raffia around it, wrote a poem telling him what it was, and sent it his way as a Father's Day gift from his kids.
I had forgotten about that book until it was pulled off of his special shelf in his closet and put on display at his funeral last week. It still had the poem and raffia attached much like the day it was given to him.
The interesting thing is, this gift was for him but now, this book is a gift to me and my siblings. I am so glad I made this book! I used to scrapbook all the time but kind of let that hobby slide. I'll be bringing it back though because I've been reminded about how important it is to document life and record relationships.
So, let me tell you about this book. I wrote the poem on the front and it sums it up.
Father's Day is the day that we take to honor you
To say thanks for all you've done and continue to do.
But we wanted this year to be special and really quite unique
So go ahead, open this gift and take a little peek.
We've all joined together and collected our thoughts on you
Our memories compiled in gratitude for all you do.
It's the lesson you've taught and the example you have shown
That ring true in our hearts and make you the best Dad we've known
It's been fun to look back and remember our moments shared
And to realize you did those things because you truly cared.
So take this day, this special day, and enjoy our tribute to you
We love you, appreciate you, and thank you - for all you've done and do!
Author, Amy Williams - 2001
The first part of the book had a page about him. It had things that all 5 of us kids remembered. Things like him being a terrific grandpa, playing his saxophone, being teacher of the year, etc...
Then we get into the sections that were from each kid. The all started the same way "I Remember..."
Each kid had a page on the left (not shown) that had a quote and a few pictures of just them with Dad. Then, like in the photo above, it was just paragraphs of memories. They were listed randomly, not in chronological order or anything special. Each kid shared three pages of memories.
I remember my dad telling me after he had read through the book that he didn't remember a lot of the things that we had. Isn't that true though, my memories are going to be different from my kids and theirs will be different from mine but it's still worth documenting. I am so grateful I wrote my memories down because there are some that I had already forgotten; like how my dad reacted when my husband asked for my hand in marriage. (Don't worry, it was good) And how he knew I didn't like being called the "baby of the family" so he called me the "caboose" instead. And how he let me set my own punishments when I did something wrong. I was always a lot harsher than he would have been.
I also added in some pages in between the sections that included our memories doing the things he liked to do like hunting and fishing and a page or two on his love for my mom!
And, in the very back I included a section called "Letters of Love" which was a place for handwritten letters from me and my siblings. My dad was always so good about writing us cards and letters of appreciation and it was nice to do the same for him.
I pulled out the letter I had written him the other day and just cried. I'm so grateful that I took the time to tell him my thoughts and how much he meant to me. I know the letter was written 12 years ago and I've expressed those same feelings since but there really is something about having it in writing and knowing he knew that we loved him.
So, like I said earlier, this gift was for him but years later, it's really a gift for me. It's been a great reminder to be better at writing things down. And, if there is anything positive that I can share or encourage others to do, it's the same, grab a note book and start writing down your memories. Don't worry so much about getting them in order, just write! And, whether they stay in a notebook or get put in a scrapbook, it doesn't really matter - at least they will be recorded!