Currently, for my own family history, I am working on creating a photo coffee table book to publish and distribute to family members. It will contain historical documents chronicling the stories that brought our ancestors to Canada. I also want to include photos when possible.
I have finally divided my photos down to the individual level. I only have a few photos for five of my great-grandparents, and the rest have no photos at all. Fortunately, I have several photos of my grandparents. You can’t imagine what a pleasant time I’ve had going through the photos, dusting off memories of my childhood – especially as all of my grandparents are deceased. My next step is to select only the photos that I feel best represent their personalities. How easy it would be if I could publish all of my pictures… but alas, being an independent genealogist does not allow for such luxuries!
My paternal grandparents were very outgoing, fun-loving, gregarious people who loved to laugh and entertain, make music, grow vegetables and fill their grandchildren’s bellies with all kinds of Ukrainian goodies. It’s not difficult to find pictures that reflect their personalities. My grama would cook enough food to make the dining room table groan, and she loved to laugh. After my grandmother died in 1991 I became very close to my grandfather. I’d never heard him utter more than 4 words together when my grandmother was alive. She was always clucking and giggling and telling stories so that my grampa couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Being the stoic Ukrainian he was, he found the strength to carry on “to see the world”, as he and my grandmother had long ago planned to do after they retired. After he turned 80 he travelled solo to the Ukraine, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, South America and Alaska.
My maternal grandmother, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. She was cantankerous, contrary and quarrelsome. Even my earliest memories of her are negative. As I got older I began to understand why she was the way she was. She had an obvious physical deformity that probably earned her the scorn and derision of her peers growing up. She must have had to develop a thick skin in order to survive during her difficult adolescent years back in the ‘20s. It was difficult being her grand-daughter. Eventually, I learned to ignore her belittling and reproachful attitude towards me. I realized that she was just bitter about life and it had nothing to do with me.
The problem I have is what photos to choose to represent her personality. After much deliberation I have decided to choose agreeable photos. This album is not meant to be my memoirs but rather an objective account of people’s lives. It seems disrespectful to show her in an unflattering light to future generations. Perhaps my ill-feelings towards her have mellowed in the 15 years since she died. I’ll just keep the unfavorable pictures of her (of which there are many!) in my own personal albums.