Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Book Of Hearts

Late last year my mother's cousin passed away. Ordinarily this probably would not affect most people overly much, but for my mother it was a hard time. They had grown up together as children living in close proximity and schooling together while young along with my mother's sister, the girls were close. Over the passing years they moved away and saw each other less but always enjoyed each others company when it was possible to get together . My mother's father passed away some years ago, then her mother a few years later quickly followed by her only sibling, her sister all too prematurely from cancer soon after. For my mother the loss of her cousin last year is a reminder of her passing years and also heightened her loneliness as almost all of her family are now gone, except her own husband and children, all of whom live quite some distance away, too far for her to visit. You see my mother was beset by cancer as well which has left her in a wheel chair since her early forties. For her, travel to see her children is near impossible as the distance involved makes travel a practical impossibility due to the complications of her condition and medical requirements. With this in mind I wanted to do something for her, something to tell her how much I loved her and to celebrate the better times in our family history. Filled with inspiration I have embarked on a project, a book, a collection of photographs in a constructed book form to celebrate and remember those wonderful and loving people who have played so large a part in her life and mine.

And so, a book of hearts.

Over the coming weeks I will post pictures of the various pages constructed for the book, I have not yet given the book to my mother as it is not yet finished. It is also a secret so don't tell her! (She doesn't read my blog anyway!) As with all projects like this it has grown well beyond my original imaginings, taken soo much more time than I envisaged, (I work full time, am currently studying for a diploma in my chosen career field and have a busy family, phew!), but I am happy with the results. It has stretched me in more ways than I ever imagined, helped me to learn about and understand the individuals that make up my family past and history, and challenged my artisitc creativity and abilities constantly, (not to mention the budget, I can see my hubby nodding in solemn agreement to that one, lol) and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

So here is the first page, and it begins with my great, grandmother, she's the lady seated in the chair. Her three children surround her, the only happy family photograph ever taken of them all together. You see, very soon after this photograph was taken she gave my grandfather and his elder brother up to an orphanage. She was born in England and when a young girl set out for Australia and eventually settled down in Tasmania some time after the turn of the century (the 20th century that is, for all you youngans). Her husband abandoned her shortly after her youngest child was born. Life must have been very hard for her with three boys to raise, and eventually it took it's toll. How hard it must have been to give up two of her children, you see she kept the youngest child with her. My grandfather (pictured sitting on her knee) and the oldest brother were both put into an orphanage and remained there until they were of age to leave. How hard for them. My great grandmother eventually remarried later in life and moved to Sydney, I don't think my grandfather or his brother had much in the way of contact with her over the years, just a few odd moments, it must have been so hard for them all.

And so to the page. In the background a copy of an old sea departure card given to emigrating departees leaving England. An English postage stamp to remind us of her heritage in the top right corner. On the right hand side a silver spoon with the Australian crest to represent her new home with a silver crown attached to the bottom to remind us of her past.

The words in the bookplate underneath at the bottom of the page are to remind us of how brave and hard a decision it must have been to leave the only home you have ever known to travel to an unknown country to live.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, I am eager to hear from you.

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Ro Bruhn said...

What a great idea Kim, your book is lovely, your mother will love it, it brings back memories of my childhood. I was only nine when I came to Australia with my family. My mother had to leave all of her family behind, my father's side were already over here. I've been back to the UK a couple of times, but my parents have never been, something now both in there late eighties, they wished they'd done. thanks for the memories.

Jen Crossley said...

Kim This is just so beautiful,what a wonderful idea

Jen Crossley said...

PS Captain Underpants says Hi