Years ago, I recall a visit to my grandparent’s home when my Grandma showed me this display she had created. I remember it was really important to her. I think I was in college at the time. Even back then, I loved genealogy. But I don’t think that love had yet extended far enough to appreciate framed hair. Because, well, it’s framed hair. And unless you understand the significance of the framed hair, it’s just framed hair. But what I wouldn’t give today to go back to that moment and ask my Grandma a few questions.
Like, what is the significance of the yellow satin? (My Grandma was all about significance so I’m guessing there was some.) It looks like Hattie must have written the note about Nina, am I right? The notes about Lola and Montice seem to have been written twice – did Hattie write in pencil and you tried to trace over her writing with pen? Or possibly Hattie wrote in pen but the ink had faded so you traced over it to darken it, am I on the right track? When was the bit of your Mother’s hair cut? Was she a child? How long had you been planning to create this display before you finally put it together? What inspired you? How did these lovely bits of hair make their way to you?
And on, and on I could go.
Why didn’t I understand back then, that I would have so many questions about this wall hanging one day?
I don’t think I even knew back then that it represented my Grandmother’s Grandmother’s loss. Grandma Hattie buried four of her precious babies at such young ages. Lola was only three, Nina was just a few months past one, Montice was just two, and Edwin was just a young boy of six.
In that moment, standing in my Grandma’s bedroom next to her as she showed me her treasure, why didn’t I understand? Why didn’t I soak in some of her memories? Memories of Hattie. Possibly memories of Hattie talking about her precious babies that she lost too soon.
Why didn’t I know that moment mattered?
I wish I had an answer. I wish I had answers.
Instead, I am left to infer, and comment about, and preserve, and hope that by writing about this treasure here, one day, my own granddaughter or grandson will understand why Grandma has a picture frame with bits of hair tied in bits of ribbon with scraps of paper recording the short, but oh-so-precious lives of Hattie & Heber’s children.
Grandma, I’m sorry that I didn’t listen better. I’m sorry I didn’t understand the framed hair. But I’m so thankful that you shared anyway.
And that you shared again, and again, and again.
I’m so thankful to be the current steward of so many family treasures that you lovingly preserved. Man, I wish blogging had been a thing when you were still alive. You would have been an amazing genealogy blogger. I would have answers to so many questions!
So I’m just going to keep on keepin’ on. I’m going to digitize and write and share so that as much of our family’s history is preserved as I can get to. Thank you, for being such an inspiration to me about the ways we can honor and remember our ancestors. I hope I am making you proud. I love you! Save a spot for me up there right next to you. <3
Happy Monday, I hope it’s a week filled-to-the-brim with genealogy goodness and happy memories of loved ones! xoxo