Some years ago, I thought my grandchildren might be interested in my early life as a baby, child, teenager, and young adult. Realizing that with modest and sustained effort, I could create a simple picture book for my grandchildren and their parents. I went to work gathering photos and other documents from my old scrapbooks, files, and other sources.
The process of choosing photos and the language to describe them was immensely fun and rewarding. For example, I found a picture of the tape applied to me right at birth. I am not sure where it was placed, but I weighed almost 8 lbs, as you will see. My attending physician was Dr. L. M. Horne, and my hospital room number was 55.
The book provides an easy-to-read, pictorial representation of my life from birth to 21. It features pictures of my mother and father when they were young parents, my cousins who lived close by, some school-class images, and much, much more.
My mother was a spry 21-year-old, eager to begin her journey as a nurturer and encourager. She was the youngest child of eight children and was not an experienced babysitter or childcare specialist. She grew up on a farm surrounded by "tons" of first cousins, aunts, and uncles. Her father was a farmer and a postman. Her mother was a teacher—one of the earliest women in her generation to graduate from a university.
My dad, a talented and bright student, entered college at a comparatively young age. He took his pre-med courses, completed medical school as a member of the US Army, and eventually became a practicing pediatrician.
By the way, I was always intrigued with my mother's hairdos. They persisted even into her nineties. She would have her hair done every week. When she came home from the stylist's shop, she would almost immediately attempt to recreate an earlier 40's look— à la Kathryn Hepburn. As a grandmother and great grandmother, she was full of personality and spunk. My granddaughters love examining her pictures and have fond memories of her antics as a great-grandma.
As Grandchildren turn each page of the book, they get a sense of where they come from, who they are, and how they look or do not look like their grandfather. They also get a sense of where I grew up, what I did as a child and a youth. They see pictures of my beloved cousins, favorite pets, and early photos of me with my brothers and sisters. They see photos taken as I started kindergarten and played in our backyard. They examine the funny hats we wore as young boys.
Some pages feature pictures of my grandparents, who often vacationed with us. My grandchildren liked the sight of me holding my first fish caught on one of our trips to Yellowstone. They are also intrigued with our family cars and 50's attire.
Other portions of the book offer photos of our family, growing from 1 child to 11 children. My grandchildren love seeing my siblings, who became their great aunts and uncles. One cabin-based shot is fascinating to them. They often ask, "Is this Uncle Wayne?" "Is this Aunt Kathy?" "Who is this?"
Other photos reveal my interests and activities during my junior high and high school years. Again, my grandkids get a big kick looking at pictures and related commentary from my earliest years to age 21.
My primary intent in sharing this book is to give you some ideas about connecting you with your grandchildren, giving them a sense of who you are and how you changed and matured over time. And possibly helping them—make sense of their own journey from their earliest beginnings to the present.