It was an unexpected gift. A member of our family died and his children had no interest in the mountain of old photos and other documents that were found as the house was being emptied out. Graciously, they gave me so many boxes filled with 'old stuff' that it looked for a while as if I wasn't going to be able to get them all in my car for the return trip home.
As I began to pour through the boxes that nearly filled a guest bedroom, I discovered a virtual treasure load of newspaper clippings, letters, photographs and other keepsakes that had marked the lives of two gentle and very kind souls that once inhabited this earth for over 90 years.
There was my grandfather's medical bag that even had bandages, a BP cuff and a stethoscope still inside! Nearly 50 years of daily diaries, some of which dated back to as early as 1918 when he was a student in medical school! Thousands of photos and typed stories that I didn't even know existed.
Even more, to help me tie together so many of the pieces of his life that were becoming a jumbled mess in my mind, Granddaddy had left behind his 212 page published autobiography. In it were stories of intense poverty and hardship from his very early years, a story of the tragic loss of his mother when he was only four years old and many other stories, some of which were new to me. Others were what became known in our home as 'multiple-told tales'.
Words can not describe the level of gratitude that filled my heart as I began to comprehend the amazing gift that I had just received. It was a gift of lasting love.
My sweet grandfather left massive volumes filled with stories of his life; but in all of the family artifacts, there was a single letter written by his mother, a woman who had lived a very brief and tragic life that was taken by tuberculosis. She was Mary Elizabeth Remine, 'Mollie.'
Mollie's one letter created a ripple of resonance in my heart that was almost haunting. The letter was dated October, 1899; and, in it, she was complaining about severe pain in her chest on the left side making it difficult for her to be able to breathe. Subsequent to that letter, Mollie endured a brutal East Tennessee winter in a log cabin with a dirt floor, savagely cold winds and seven hungry and sick children. Just as Spring was returning with a promise of new life, warmer days and rebirth, Mollie's young life was taken by tuberculosis the following year on April 1.
Just one letter. That is all that she left behind, and I was blessed beyond measure.
I began to set about to become intentional about what I was to leave behind for my own children and their children. As blessed as I was by that one glimmer of what was in her heart, I resolved that I would try to leave behind more than that.
As the founder of Jessie + Elizabeth, I believe in the joy of life and the love of families, and I want to motivate and inspire others to tell their own family stories. You may only get down a page or two of your family's story. And that would be good. Very good.
But, you may get started and find that you want to go much further. I hope so.
Our artisan lotions are designed to feed your skin and to pamper you while we hope to create messages of motivation that will encourage you to leave behind a lasting legacy.
It is our message and our platform, but it is all about you. Come join us on this journey! Do you have a story to tell about your family? Please send it to us through our contact page, and we would love to honor you and your loved one in a blog post.
Susan Bryg, founder and product developer, owner Jessie + Elizabeth