Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What To Do About Alice?


I may not have to deal with this problem today but the time will come as my current project progresses that I’ll have to deal with Alice (Davey) Higgins. Her biography will be the culmination of all those ancestors’ stories leading up to her life and will probably be the most important of the publication. Now you may think I’m concerned about this because I can’t find enough information to write an interesting piece. Oh, Contraire. I’m concerned because I’m overwhelmed with information and data.

First of all, I’ve known of Alice since I was ten years old; she went to the same Church as my family when we moved to Chicago. Of course I wasn’t overly cognizant of her at the time because she was just the mother of two children near my age. As time went on Alice and “Happy”, her husband, drew more of my attention when I dated and later married their son. So, as you see, Alice, my mother-in-law and the grandmother of my children, made up a large part of my life until her death in 2008. Knowing her should make writing her story a breeze, right? In some ways, yes; in others, no. I will need to detach myself somewhat to find an unbiased point of view. I’ll need to see her as a whole person and not just as my husband’s mother.

Second and most important, Alice saved EVERYTHING and most of it is in my house. Not only do I have her diaries/calendars from 1929 until the late 1990’s when she stopped filling them,
but I have a cedar chest full of letters, cards, receipts, you name it. I have the receipts from all the purchases made for her wedding. I have a set of boxed pillow cases, unopened, she received as a wedding gift. (They were “too good to use.”) I have items she saved from her parents. I could go on and on. In fact, in order to get down to the cedar chest I’ll have to work my way through the items we kept when we broke down the apartment she and “Happy” shared in the last days of her life.

I know you may be saying you wished you had all these keepsakes from your mother, father, grandparents, etc. I can feel your disdain for my complaining about having so much but, really, this feels like it will take forever to do justice to all this information. I’ll have to be discerning about what to use and what not to use; honestly, I can’t use everything. I just can’t.

I know it’s hard to know what to keep and what not to keep. I have that problem myself. For me, though, my most treasured items are rarities for those people who left little behind. For instance, I have an inexpensive, well-used, bowl that belonged to my Dad’s mother. It was given to me by my Dad’s cousin and I cherish it, not because it is worth anything but because it is the only thing I have that belonged to her
.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m sure in the end this collection from Alice will provide an insight into her life and will help me write her story. Right now, though, I’m feeling dazed.

~Becky  

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