Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Life in Longhand

Of all the mementos that have come down from earlier generations, I most treasure those that have been hand written. Letters, cards, notations on the backs of photographs, recipes jotted in margins of cookbooks – these are the things that are true wisps of the people who were here before – casual fingerprints left behind, echoing whispered voices that will never fade so long as they are handled with care.

When Incrediboy was 16 weeks old, I started a writing project. It will take me many years and I have no idea what will result in the end, but I knew I wanted to do it regardless. I bought a set of blank Flavia books. Each is a different color, each with a different little painting on the cover and a single word possessing a lovely, magical quality. Words like Dreams, Moments, Adventures, Passages. Within these books I have started a set of journals for him. All are written in letter form, but my approach varies from entry to entry. I have written about the house from which we moved – the house he was born in and will not remember. I have written about his first steps, first words, first haircut. About the time he was so ill that we were afraid we’d have to hospitalize him. About the day he wriggled out of his shoes, ran barefooted through the back yard, and first took notice of the variance between rough warm concrete and the soft cool spring grass. Stepping from one to the other, and back again – over and over, fascinated.

I don’t write just of these milestones, though. I have also written about our hopes and dreams for him. Tough lessons he will have to face and process. Values and virtues, advice and aspirations. Lessons for him, and lessons he has taught his father and me. Remembrances of how he handled himself in good times and bad, as they happen, from his Mother's viewpoint.

Dreams, Moments, Adventures, Passages.

Not just the tight honeycomb of our lives either. I also wanted to record the world as it was during his youth. Current events. Historical moments. The way they really happened, from a firsthand perspective. Who knows what our country and our world will be like when he reaches adulthood. Who knows how the authors of his history texts will portray what actually took place. I want him to know, and I want him to remember, the events of his life - both micro and macro.

Someday I’ll give these handwritten memories to him. Maybe when he graduates. Maybe when he gets married, or when he has his first child. I don’t really have a set time in my mind, but I will know when the time is right. I just want him to have a piece of me and himself that he can hold in his hands, leaf through, learn and reflect. When he is a grown man, rather than visiting my grave (because I will not be there) I hope that Incrediboy will remember me by opening these journals - my sometimes sloppy, always loving longhand bringing us together again. Most of all I hope that through the receipt of these journals he will more deeply realize and appreciate, on multiple levels, what a blessing it is to be gifted a life.

16 comments:

martie said...

What a FANTASTIC GIFT!!

Kodijack said...

I concur with Martie. And I want to applaud your dedication to the project, and the wide scope that you are incorporating. Very nice job.

Lori said...

What a treasure, clew. I started doing the same thing many years ago, but didn't keep it going. You think you're going to remember all of the precious, cute and funny things that happen, but the somehow slip away.

An amazing gift he will always, always treasure.

McSwain said...

That will be a wonderful gift!! I haven't had the dedication to do that, but am putting a lot of it in my blog--which I copy and save.

Incrediboy will see and fill his mommy's love in every word.

steelcowboy said...

I don't even know what to say.. the treasures you will give to him! Wow. Just wow.
I stand in awe of your thoughtfulness!

Rebecca said...

Clew - he'll love it. And I'm sure his future wife will appreciate it as well....

Handwriting is soon becoming a dying art; and the personal touch of your longhand journals will be a view into who you were as a person, long after your gone. It's a gift your giving in essence to generations of your family. :)

Bainwen Gilrana said...

What a treasure that will be!

Seabiscuit said...

Incrediboy is very blessed with a loving home!

Tirithien said...

Oooo..... I like this. Future Son may get one from me, written in my rather angular blockscript.

TC said...

I think that is wonderful! I had letters and notes saved on my computer and when my hardrive melted down, I lost them all. I have started fresh but I am more careful now.

Bougie Black Boy said...

hmmmm great idea... And this is why we all love you on here.

Anonymous Assclown said...

I think it's also a great gift to yourself. I recently went through an old trunk and found some of my school-mandated journals from years ago. What I thought at the time to be brooding and impossibly deep thoughts mined from my very soul now seemed to be pointless meandering ramblings from a complete idiot.
It was really informative to see how I've grown (or rather NOT grown) since then. To be able to look again throught the eyes of a clueless 15 yr old.

clew said...

:O! AC, did you just dog me? LOL

naive-no-more said...

I knew this was of Flavia the second I saw the picture. You know I think this is a wonderful idea.

On a weird parallel note: me and Glenn were just talking about this two days ago. He mentioned it would be nice to write a letter to each of the children for the future and I told him all about your project.

It will truly be a priceless gift.

Anonymous Assclown said...

Actually I dogged myself. But I imagine 10, 15, 20 years from now you'll sit down to read what you wrote and wonder "what the heck was I thinking?". To me, that's what makes this such a great gift - not just because you chronicle the events that were happening around him, but you're also chronicling your growth as a mother and a woman. That means so much more than just his personal history.

clew said...

Thanks everyone! I don't respond in my comments often, but I do appreciate your input, always! This is a very special project to me and it was fun to share the idea with you. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

BTW ... AC! - I was just teasing you, but thanks for the followup post! And in response, I say, Yes ... that was my reference to appreciation on multiple levels. You "get it", exactly. :)