I have seen lots of my sisters, Anne, Barb, Cathy since arriving in Kamloops last June. We have cooked, shopped, wine tasted, gone for drives along back roads and dog walked. Not earth-shattering entertainment – but just the sorts of things that sisters enjoy together.
We have all recently moved into new digs. I am in Canada just part time, but still, I’ve had an apartment to fix up. My sisters have all downsized. Not having so much house to care for is great, but the inconvenience of a smaller place is less storage. My sisters wonder what to do with the memorabilia they have collected over the years – their children don’t want it – and they have nowhere to keep it. The photographs are fading and the letters are dog-eared – but they can’t bear to throw the stuff out. And really, it would be a shame to lose all that history. So, we came up with the idea of a “posterity project”.
It did not take long to collect four big plastic storage bins of “treasure”. The apartment where I live in Kamloops seemed like the logical place to keep it all – I don’t have much space either but I am the one with the most time to separate, cull and organize.
We call our project: “The vdG Repository”. My dictionary defines repository as : a central location in which data is stored and managed. Perfect, eh?
And we are off to a great start. In the living room, next to the window, we’ve placed an old photograph of our granddad’s family in Amsterdam, and below it, a photograph of the family taken at my grandmother’s 65th birthday party. Above the couch, we have three of Granddad’s paintings – and the family memoir I wrote about Aunt Gisele’s life is on the book shelf – as are other books written by family members.
We’ve sorted the letters, photos and keepsakes into piles and have started to make scrap books. We don’t have much of cataloguing system. The four are called: “Granddad and Further Back”, “Dad, his Siblings and Cousins”, “Us Kids and Our Cousins”, and “Our Kids and Their Kids”
We have a copy of the family tree that Aunt Gisele put together, and the chart that accompanies it. Her birth, 105 years ago is the last recorded entry, so obviously we have a lot of catching up to do.
The van der Gracht family is an interesting mix of characters. Artists, explorers, pirates, n’er-do-wells, humanitarians, businessmen, real estate developers, teachers, farmers, nurses – and even a saint! We hope that future generations will want to know more about us than just our birth and death dates, so we are adding stories to the scrap books, and postcards, kid’s drawings, first communion photos, and wedding invitations.
It goes without saying that this project is also a tribute to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They instilled in us a love of family, and we want to carry that on.
We hope that other family members will send us the missing links and data, but if not, we’ll do the best we can.
Do you or anyone you know have a project like ours? Any suggestions?