Thursday, February 20, 2014

Great-Grandma's Autograph Book

Last Sunday we found ourselves celebrating Christmas with my dad's side of the family.

Yes, our 2013 Christmas.

Yes, 2 days after Valentine's Day.

(Just wanted you to know I am aware of those two things)

So we all met at my Grandma's apartment, located within the retirement community that she moved into this last year. 

Here is a 4-generation-snapshot with my grandma, my dad, me and the kids

While we were eating and visiting, grandma shared her coffee table reading material with us. Newspaper clippings collected over the years, cartoon strips she found to be funny and worth saving, magazine articles and 2 "autograph books."  One was from her middle school years and one was from high school. 

Both books contained hand-written notes from friends of hers in the 1940s.  Many were written in clever rhymes and signed with "forget-me-not" and the name. 

Most of them were funny.

I asked grandma about a note written by Bob Moore.  Clearly it was intended to humorous, and clearly had a hint of flirtation. 

She responded with "Yes, I remember Bob Moore."  Her words begged innocence, but the sideways-and-upward glance of her eyes and a smile that moved in the same direction spoke otherwise. 

Danielle, Marisa and Great Grandma

Some 70+ years have passed since the notes to my grandma were scratched into these tie-bound books, and yet my grandma could tell me about each person who signed it. 

Something quite unexpected happened between me and my grandma while thumbing through her coffee-table reading material.

At our Christmas party I got to know my 90-year-old grandma as a teenager. 

Great Grandma with Marisa

I could see how she interacted with her peers in a time occurring two generations before my own. 

I could see a playful side of her.

I could see glimpses of who she was as a child through the words on the pages of those autograph books. 

These words acted as a link for me, connecting me with my grandma in a different time and place--a piece of my heritage, a sense of pride.

When reading these words, I wanted to know more about my grandma before she was my grandma.  Who she was, who her friends were, what her dreams were.  I wanted to know the grandma who went on to marry and have children. 

I wanted to know the story of what made my grandma my grandma.  

Nathan and Danielle escorting Great Grandma around her building
Great Grandma giving her grandkids tours of her new retirement community

 I was so inspired by these tiny little autograph books and their power to connect me to a time that occurred decades ago.  I want to create something that my children, my children's children and generations that follow will have something of mine that they can know me, even though they may never meet me.

I want them to know that when I was writing, I was thinking of them, even if I never had the chance to know them. 

I want to create a picture of my life, through words and actual snapshots. 

I want my kids to see that even though my story may not have appeared to be exciting to the outside world, it was exciting to me because they were my world.  

Someday, years from now, I want to be throwing Christmas parties whenever I can no matter what the calendar says and I want my grandchildren to be able to see, if they want to, a glimpse of who I was before I was their grandma. 

And someday, years and years from now, I want my great grandchildren to pick up an unexciting-looking piece of coffee-table reading material, and without knowing what is about to happen, catch a glimpse of their great-grandma's heart.


  1. How precious, Robin. Makes my heart smile.

  2. Me, too! This is so beautiful, Robin! You made me all teary!

    1. Thanks for the kind words and paying a visit to me here, Melinda!