Growing up with a mentally ill mother wasn’t easy. We didn’t know from one day to the next what we were waking up to in the morning. When we left Missouri for California in 1969 my mother either gave away or threw away all of our things. Even our memorabilia’s. I remember the day before we got on the road she gathered almost all of my clothes and took them to a neighbor. I saw my dad get in the garbage can and pull out a small box of photos and he put them under the front seat. I ran to the can, opened the lid and started digging through it. I found my baby shoes, so I stuck them in my small purse. I was going to keep looking but I heard my mother coming down the street, so I closed the lid and ran inside.
We lived in California for 5 years and my dad passed away from lung cancer. All my mother and sister wanted was to go “home” to Tucson, AZ. We sold most of our belongings and we packed up what we were hanging on to. I saw her sneak out the small box of photos that belonged to my dad and threw them away. I waited until dark and I went and got it out of the trash and I put it under the driver’s seat. Neither my mother nor my sister drove so I knew it would be safe.
Fast forward several years when I married my current husband. Over the next 33 years, we moved around, a lot! I never looked in the small box of photos and I kept the pair of baby shoes in an old trunk but they always went with us wherever we moved. I believe I didn’t take them out because I was afraid that something would happen to them. About 5 years ago I finally took out the photo box and went through it. It was amazing. There were photos of my dad when he was 3 years old in 1918. There were pictures of both of his previous wives, his family and a bunch from his time in the CCC Camp in Lake Tahoe, CA in 1935.
Over a year ago we moved into a new home. I was setting up my curio cabinet when my husband brought in the old trunk. He wanted to know where to put it. I said “Right there” and he set it down. Imagine my surprise when I found the baby shoes, I had totally forgotten about them. I decided I should include them with my other treasures in the cabinet. When I picked up the shoes one slipped out of my hand and fell to the floor. It made a rattling sound! I picked it up and looked inside. Surprise! There was my baby bracelet with my last name on it that they put on my wrist right after I was born. I literally cried. I had never seen it before. I placed it and the shoes in a prominent place in the cabinet.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.