Friday, February 18, 2011

The importance of sharing your past while you're still here to share it

My first post... is not written by me. It's actually from a column that my grandfather, Cedric Adams, wrote more than fifty years ago in the Minneapolis Star (now the StarTribune). His daily column was called "In This Corner" and he wrote about everyday things. On this day his mind was on the death of loved ones, and how he wished he had asked them more when they were still here.

My mother-in-law passed away two weeks ago. She was a sweet and winsome woman. Her death left a void and a chain of circumstances about which I have wondered since. There are so many things to do when death comes that should have been done long before. This was true in connection with the death of my own mother. And it probably pertains to most families when a loved one goes. Death invariably brings about a gathering of the clan....  The nearest of kin and friends gather again....  The details of the death are gone over again.  Episodes of the life of the departed member are recalled.  Gradually the combination of food and happier talk relieves the tensions, stops the tears.  How much better it would be if we didn't wait for death to create this kind of reunion....

In the case of my mother-in-law, and my own mother as well, there were discovered batches of love letters their respective spouses had sent prior to their marriages.  I read my mother's long after she died.  Think how much richer that experience might have been had just the two of us sat down while mother read them aloud to me.  She could have elaborated on her own courtship, told me something about my father as a swain.  I would have had a much better understanding of the letters and I'm sure my mother would have enjoyed going over them with me.  We never thought of it.  Nor did my mother-in-law with her children.  Every family has an old trunk of two stashed away in the attic.  In it probably are mother's wedding dress and perhaps one of the wedding invitations and maybe the newspaper clippings of the event.  Why keep them buried up there only to be discovered after death has come?  Why not call the family together, maybe this afternoon, trot out all this stuff, have some laughs, some gaiety over them?

There's another consideration - family albums and scrapbooks.  My wife has a very well-kept scrapbook.  I refer to it as her "girl graduate book."  Frankly, I'm not very fond of it because there are pictures of all her early boy friends, letters from some of them, and a few pictures of her that make me wonder how in the world I ever fell for her - cloche hat, bangs down to her eyeballs, the most unbecoming dresses and coats I've ever seen.  But we get it out periodically, she giggles and guffaws, I snort and wish I had kept a record of my early flames.  And some of them weren't too bad, either.  It was that "girl graduate book," however, that launched me on a scrapbook for my own family.  We had saved pictures and clippings and letters, but they were scattered in the attic, in the basement, in closets, some were at the office.  I gathered the whole shebang in a heap and the girls at the office have been kind enough to spend an hour or so a week sorting and mounting and pasting these little gems in their chronological order.  By Christmas we hope to have it complete.  If it is, our whole family is going to sit down together to go over it.  I like that idea much better than to wait until I'm gone.  
I like that idea better too.  I'll have to ask my dad if they ever did sit down to look at Grandpa Cedric's scrapbooks with him.  Cedric died at the age of 58 - less than three years after he wrote this article.  He died fifty years ago today, in fact - February 18, 1961.

Cedric Adams   May 27, 1902 - February 18, 1961

Thanks for helping me start off my genealogy blog, Grandpa Cedric. 


  1. This is a wonderful post. I'll be looking forward to future posts.

  2. Welcome to the genealogy blogging world. Very nice first post!

  3. Great post! I feel like I met your grandfather through your post! Congratulations on starting your blog!

  4. Thanks everybody! I appreciate all the encouraging comments!

  5. A lovely article; and what he wrote rings true for today. So now it is up to you to gather and share your history with your blog :-)
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  6. What a wonderful article! I'm your newest follower. :)



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