Holder. "hohl-der'. The American Dictionary defines Holder as a Noun, something that holds or secures. I define Holder with a name, Frank.
Frank is my 87 year old father. An incredible man with the perseverance and determination to overcome any obstacle life throws at him. I also describe him as a man with a love for my mother that runs so deep in his heart that her memory alone keep him going.
Dad is also the best story teller I have ever known. Holder and keeper of detailed memories which leaves me amazed every time he shares a story. Dad has had some medical challenges and there are days he can't remember certain things but when it comes to a memory of my mother and him, he can recollect every detail without missing a beat. When he shares a story or memory, you can't help but to become captivated.
I am the youngest daughter. I was born later in their lives so even at the age of 52, I am still learning new things from my father. Stories that he has recently shared with us that truly made me stop in my tracks. Things I have never known and things I will appreciate about my parents for the rest of my life. Perhaps I have heard them in my younger years but at a young age, I didn't appreciate the meaning of the message behind the story.
Several months ago on a visit to Dad's home, I stumbled upon an old wooden photo album that my mother started when they first met. It's a rather large rectangular shaped book.
The cover and the back are made of wood. Attached to the front cover is scroll work that simple reads, "Frank and Laverne". The cover has copper hinges and a piece of leather that holds the large black construction paper pages together in the spine. It was covered in layers of dust, the leather strap was broken and part of Laverne was missing.
Dad saw that I was looking at it and together we brought it over to the table and gently opened the book. Old photos fell out, most of the picture place holders no longer held the photos in place. Written under each picture was a description and date of the photograph in my mother's beautiful handwriting.
Dad looked happy and sad as we gently turned each page. Happy because he remembered each of the pictures in detail of our mother, or a cousin or a friend. He recalled the entire day they spent at Lake Park.. He had a huge smile on his face.
He looked sad because there were pictures missing from pages. At every turn, photos were falling out and the black pages started to separate from the spine because it was so fragile. It was as if he felt the entire album was gone, just remnants of the past remained, a piece of his history lost. I too felt sad because I could see it was upsetting him to see his cherished memories fall out of the book and onto the floor.
When we left that day, we took the album home with us. We cleaned off the dust, replaced the leather strap,and ordered new photo place holders. It was not an option to change out the black construction paper because our mother's handwriting is irreplaceable. We carefully removed the old photo holders with tweezers and strengthened the black paper in the places we could. We then carefully reattached the photos.
We returned to Dad's this past weekend and presented the revitalized album back to my father. I don't know who was more excited, my father or us when we watched his reaction. Each page we turned brought a smile and joyful reaction to my father's face.
He recollected their travel to Missouri, their time at Lake Park and his time in the Air Force. He laughed out loud as he pointed to the honeymoon bungalow and a picture of Mom posing in front of it. He laughed even louder when he found one of Mom in a home made Halloween costume.
Every word he spoke and every story he told was full of love and joy when it came to a picture of my mother, his parents or their friends. My best moment was seeing a picture of my mother at a very, very young age that I had never seen before.
My father was (and still is) totally gorgeous. When I look at pictures of my mom, I see how much my older sisters carry on her beautiful features. I inherited Dad's good looks and charm (and my mother's sense of humor, obviously)
The album is the story of my parent's travels from 1950 to 1956. Where they met, where they have been together, where they went on their honeymoon, Dad's first car, Mom's good friends and their families.
It's the story of how they got there, how long it took them to get there, who they were with and the moments they created together while traveling. The last picture in this album was taken in 1956. It's a picture of my parents standing on the stoop of my grandparent's house holding my oldest sister as a newborn.
What does my story this week have to do with travel? Not much, but it has EVERYTHING to do with how we share our memories and what those memories will mean to us in our later years of life. Memories are the story of our lives.
What will be in your photo album? How will you share your life story?
Until next week, Just Glide. Lisa
Side note: When I told Dad this morning I was writing about him and the photo album, he wanted to make sure I shared the picture of the church. This was a sign that my mother and father saw the day after they were wed. He wants me to pass on this on to you, "Make sure you read the sign"
Lisa D Fitzgerald, CTA, is the owner of Fitzgerald Travel. Lisa has 23 years of full service experience and is a graduate of the Travel Institute. She is knowledgeable in all forms of travel, with a focus on European Itineraries.