I’m working on a project. This is a long-term, involved project that does not necessarily have an end in sight. And I’m okay with that. I have started pulling old photos out of those horrible magnetic pages and thinking about the stories behind them. And I am writing them down.

This year I am determined to develop my writing and creating skills. I asked for art supplies for Christmas. I’m taking some classes. I’m focused.

One class I signed up for is Yesterday and Today. This online class is led by Ali Edwards, whose approach to storytelling I have long admired. The class centers around the creation (or start) of a scrapbook album telling the stories of the past. I am really enjoying the process and want to keep it going as I remember and learn more stories.

Last summer we attended a family reunion of descendants of my Great Grandpa Conrad. When we saw by a show of hands that only three people in the room have first-hand memories of Jeremiah Conrad, I was struck by all the stories at risk of being lost forever. Since then I have had a vague idea I want to start going through old pictures with my mom and writing down the stories. Then I saw this class and knew it was the nudge I needed. For now I am focusing on my childhood pictures and memories, but I see this as a warmup to digging deeper.

When Grandpa Conrad died, Mom and Auntie Jo spent weeks sorting through a giant barrel of old photographs. They did their best to preserve them, and they are fun to look at. But I want more. I want to know the personalities behind the faces. I want to know who was funny, who was serious, who loved to read and who always went barefoot. Just hearing a snippet of those stories from the cousins at the reunion whetted my appetite for more. We will gather again this summer at the tiny church in Windsor, and I plan to go with pen in hand. Because those storytellers won’t be around forever.

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