My husband would tell you it’s because there such a wide range of products and events for me to spend our money on and that’s not entirely without justification. It did open a whole new world of things to buy! But that’s just a benefit – not a reason. It’s an art form of sorts and the artistry calls out to the inner child in me – the part that really liked to color when I was kid. Finding and mastering new techniques soothes my needd for change and growth. I like for my pages to look better that Sally-Sue Smugwitch’s pages so the contests and challenges to be found in the world of scrapbookers appeal to the competitive side of my nature. But, since I can and have satisfied all of those personal needs with other things, I know that they are not the reason I find it so appealing.
I’ve spent a lot time in the last 20 years with my mother on my mind. I’ve only been scrapping for three years and of course, I thought about her before I began to scrap and frequently think of her even when I’m not scrapping. But to me, she seems closest when I’m in my scraproom. What’s different about the times she’s on my mind when I’m wearing my scrap hat is that my thoughts are focused on my mother as a whole person and not just about how much I miss sharing my daily life with her or how my daughter is so much like her. In my scraproom, I see my mother outside of her assigned roles as my champion, my coach, and my protector from the storms of life.
I’m able to see her as the person she was because of what she gave me during the last year – when we knew the end was coming and we knew we couldn’t stop it. Her bequest to me wasn’t a material thing and I didn’t understand it at the time. In fact, at the time I viewed it as kind of peculiar and there were days when it made me uncomfortable. But now, maybe because of my advancing age or maybe because I’ve started scrapbooking, I’ve begun to understand what it was that she was doing during those private afternoon gab sessions. There were several times when she really came close to crossing the boundary into the land of Too Much Information (you all have or had mothers so you know how it is – I was 30 something with a very colorfully checkered past of my own but I was still reasonably certain she had never even held hands with anyone other than my father). To her credit, she never really crossed the line of propriety and there was a point to everything she shared with me. The point was that she NEEDED for me to see her as whole person and to have a glimpse of the world through HER eyes. She NEEDED for me to understand that as much as my brother and I enriched her life (her words, not mine), she was a person of depth and interests and experiences that had nothing to do with us and that it was the sum of those many parts that made her whole self. She NEEDED for me to know that the concentric circles that rippled outward from her life encompassed but were by NO means limited to her career as wife and mother.
After her death and even before I started scrapbooking, I became the keeper of the family repository of photographs. Now that I know HOW, it’s really easy for me to scrap photos of my history and my view of the history of my children and my grandchildren but it becomes increasingly more difficult for me to successfully create a meaningful page when I move backwards through the generations; especially the people she didn’t talk about. And the reason is, I don’t KNOW those people. Well, yes, I know that this picture is my paternal grandfather and this one is her twin uncles, CB and MB, but that knowledge doesn’t give me a clue about the essence that made the person. Of those that comprise my heritage, my mother alone that it was important to bridge the gap in knowledge.
She was a poet and for others in the family, especially my dad and my brother – and, as I’ve recently learned, aunts and uncles and cousins - she told them what she wanted to say in her poems but since I don’t do poetry more complex than Jack Be Nimble, she made my gift with the only other tools she had available. What she spent that last year giving me was a verbal scrapbook.
William James tells us “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast us.” So, other than a few thousand lines of COBOL code, generated over a 30 year career, the pages that I create and compile into books are the legacy I’ll leave. They’ll be unknown and unimportant to the outside world, but they will, I hope, be enduring ways for my children and their children to look at the people that are their heritage AS people and not just really weird names on the lines of patchworked pedigree. I NEED that in the same way my mother did and I believe my children and my grandchildren also need it even if they don’t fully know that yet.