Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GRATITUDE - January 25, 2012


...or at least the 2012 version.  Thirty years from now (wouldn't that be a hoot if I was still here to read this) this statement will cause much snickering and laughter, like reading a letter from the past talking about the modern conveniences of a wringer washer and a horse and buggy.  

The current ability to record and preserve family archives far surpasses what was available to previous generations.  My generation dug through trunks of yellowed  letters and fading black and white photos, attempting to piece together family history.  So many ordinary, but great people with grand stories of adventure and accomplishment, kindness, heroism, love and generosity faded into obscurity, never to be found again, because their exploits and memories were never recorded.

The ancients did a far better job, handing down from generation to generation, memories captured in song, dance and wall art.  Some families have a family historian.  Most don't. My sister is ours.  That said, I suspect we have more information on our fathers and father's father, than we do on our current generation.  

My mom's version to record that for me was an inherited giant plastic tub full of old photos, letters, half-started notebooks, old report cards, etc. I am forever grateful for her foresightedness to keep it from Goodwill and the public dump.  

Scraps of seemingly ordinary paper, are mementos and instant memory enhancers to be treasured, not necessarily forever, as some items may mean nothing to my children and my grandchildren, but certainly for me in my lifetime.

I have a few observations about life, some stories to tell and even bits of perceived wisdom I wish to pass on to my children and their children.  As it fairly recently occurred to me that I may not live forever, to impart my message personally, I embraced the technology enhanced version of the family memory plastic tub.  Kind of like preaching from the grave, in  a darkly humorous way.

Note: I love my inherited plastic tubs, and I may never get to the bottom of them in my lifetime, as I most often, fall apart a mere two inches into the pile. Each time I open it I am able to look at my personal family history, as seen through my mother's eyes.  Like an archaeological dig, each inch of memorabilia in those cursed (with much love) tubs conjures up years of memories, smiles and tears alike. Like in a dark magical time machine, I am transported back into time to relive times I thought were long forgotten.

Oh yeah, the gratitude for technology part...I have undertaken a "Ginormous" task of scanning and digitizing thousands of family paper photographs...yes, grandchildren, we actually temporarily preserved our photos and memories on pieces of paper...into my hard drive and onto cds and posting online in blogs and videos.  That too, will surely become ancient and archaic soon enough, the buggy whips of our generation. 

It is highly likely that Facebook will become this generation's family album.  That is where I now go to get updated pictures of my grandchildren and to see my sister/brother-n-law's  latest worldly adventure.  Thank God we are sheltered from the boring family-room slideshow our our in-laws last camping vacation...

To step it up a notch, this old guy (64 and counting) has a spate of on-line blogs and a couple of YouTube channels to preserve my bits of perceived wisdom, advice and partially-fact-filled remembered stories.  I don't know if I have done a better job of plastic tub stuffing (I still do that for my children however - they each have their own legacy tub), but I am embracing the new technology.

I have an online blog:  Robert Welton Remembers, a record of some of the myriad of stories that make me who I am.  I have recently started putting them into printed booklets - five or so stories at a time...yes , yes,  I am still victim to the printing on paper thing...can't escape it.  For my grandchildren and beyond, we may never get a chance to be around each other like multiple generations living under the same roof, where everybody interacted with Grandpa.  Mine live a few thousand miles away.

So, to end a short story gone I created a new video channel. Whereas, my thirteen year old daughter could have completed this task in a few minutes...I struggled with it for hours.

ROBERT WELTON REMEMBERS on YouTube.  Now, my grandchildren can see me and hear me and have a sense of who I was, perhaps bring me a little closer to their heart.  When I am no longer on this side, perhaps those that knew me might check into the legacy from time to time. I know if my Mom had done this, I would likely visit daily.  Just sayin'.

This first post is lovingly dedicated to my sister, Sharon, our family's grand Poobah historian.  If you want to know our family's history from a hundred years ago, she has it.  If you want to know about a camping trip my sister and I went on 50 years ago and experience the overwhelming sibling love we shared around the campfire, click on the link above.


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