happy heritage

Back in my early Macy years, when I worked freelance only, I had the time it took to organize all the boxes of family history that over time landed in my possession. I covered every flat surface in every upstairs room with old letters and pictures and documents and biographies. I separated out my dad’s family stuff from my mom’s family stuff. Then I approximated a timeline for each family up through the time my parents discovered each other. My favorite part of the project came next: putting their loves letters in chronological order. My dad was the saver. He not only kept my mother’s beautifully fountain-penned letters but also made a carbon copy of his own typed replies. That’s why I have the complete correspondence. It was fun to note how their love language intensified as their long-distance courtship developed while she finished nurse’s training. [Advice: Be careful what you keep!]

Next I sorted another pile of memorabilia that represented my “family of origin,” as we say now. Eventually all that stuff ended up in large color-coded notebooks, now lovingly referred to as “the archives.”


Last year I invited my siblings to come visit me and spend a little time looking over our family history and to help themselves to whatever pieces drew them. Neither accepted my offer, so here it rests in its entirety, which I suppose is as good a place as any until we downsize and I have to choose between keeping the bed or keeping the family history.

I thought the collection was complete until my cousin from Ohio brought some more goodies to share from her archives. As I glanced through a stack of pictures she had thoughtfully chosen for me, I discovered an image of my grandparents I’d never seen before, so very different from the other poker-faced, straight-laced snapshots of the times. It brought Eugene and Emma Nill to life for me. Real people in joyful, healthy relationship. Playful. Affectionate. It warmed my heart.

Yup, this one goes on the wall!

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2 Responses to happy heritage

  1. Luke Ankeny says:

    I like the white shoes!

  2. mona says:

    I love the picture I don’t ever remember seeing a happy picture of them.

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