Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cleaning Out Files

I dropped by my Mother’s yesterday and she was still in her pajamas at 4:00 in the afternoon.”Why?” I asked. Well, she had been cleaning out files.

My Mother has been into genealogy for as long as I can remember. She has tracked her family back to Scotland, through Virginia to Tennessee.  We have family crests, faded photographs, burnt-edged court house records- all because she has taken so much time, effort and love to find out who we “come from”.

All of Mother’s records are on paper. She has file cabinet after file cabinet of original material, documenting every detail of “who begot who” throughout the generations.  But although paper was her preferred method, she has put almost all of her knowledge into Family Tree Maker as well, entering her family history into the digital era.

Etna Brown Upshaw, Plain Mamma to me, at age 18 in 1892
She pointed to a now empty metal brown file cabinet telling me that Plain Mamma, my great-grandmother from Louise, MS, had given it to her and Daddy after they had been married about a year. She laughed that she had kept it for 60 years and now it was empty and she would give it to someone else that needed it. She had such fond memories of Plain Mamma, my Delta great-grandmother, remarking how practical and honest she was, even when it was not politically correct to be so!

As we sat in her den, I asked why she was going through all her files that day. Without any hesitation, she said “I want to have it all done so you and your brothers don’t have to worry about it after I die”.

Her words were very matter of fact. I imagine, she was telling it just as it was, for her. But for me, my immediate reaction was “take your time. Don’t finish too soon. Keep working on it. For if you finish, will you feel it is ok to die?”

I know she is trying to get her life and her place in order. She will be 83 in August. I am sure her life and her death weigh heavy on her mind. She is getting ready. But for me, I don’t want her to get ready. I am not ready! I don’t think I will ever be ready!

For some strange reason, I am remembering my last month of pregnancy. All the old wives’ tales were showing themselves in me – I was definitely nesting. Getting ready for Lee by getting his room ready; his clothes ready; his bottles, dishes, diapers ready. Nature took over. I was on overdrive and God was showing me what to do to prepare for the new life that was about to join our family.

Grace Marie Hall Upshaw -- My Mother
I imagine my Mother is going through something similar. She is in overdrive. God is showing her what to do to get ready –ready for the new life outside this world that will be her’s at some point.

When we are preparing for new life, we build nests. When we are preparing for the life after this, we clean out files. Either way, I am thankful that God helps us on our journey.

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