In the back of my mind, I knew they were there.
It just took being inspired to find the little plaster of Paris Santas my son decorated the first year I toughed it out as a single mother to find them.
Oh, I found the Santas, all right...and remembered how one rainy fall day I got him to sit with me at the kitchen table, spread some newspaper out, and use our little brushes and acrylic paints to make them our own.
It started us on a homemade ornament tradition. Each year, we added the ornaments he made at school to the tree.
Now, he wanted those little Santas for his own daughters.
I didn't find them in the shed.
But as I was fighting off spiders startled from slumber, and opening one huge Rubbermaid container after another, I found something just as precious.
More ancient family memorabilia...
I packed the stuff well. No cooties, and the envelopes were all still intact, photos separated by family surname.
Not even the spiders outran me as I hustled my finds back from the shed to the cottage.
And I have been going through this stuff for hours ever since.
I have three of the keepsake books given to families by funeral homes.
I had forgotten about the one for my great grandfather, Jo Desha Williams.
And I didn't recall the telegrams.
Maxie followed the directions in the book to the letter.
First his obit...Arkansas Gazette, Sunday, Dec. 24, 1950
Jo Desha Williams, Salesman, Dies
Jo Desha Williams, aged 84, 2310 Ringo Street, died at his home Saturday. Mr. Williams was a traveling salesman for the U O Colson Co. of Paris, Ill. He was a member of the First Christian Church, a charter member of the Sons of the American Revolution, a member of the United Commercial Travelers, the WOW and the Modern WOW. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Maxine Meek Williams of Little Rock; three sons, C H Williams of Texarkana, and P M and J D Williams, Jr., both of Little Rock; and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Griffin-Leggett.
Then, there was the genealogy page, in my great grandmother's handwriting.
And the telegrams of condolence...(Cousins, if you want scans of them not in collage form, let me know and I will send them along...)
According to this little book, my great-grandfather was buried at 3 p.m. the day after Christmas. The clergyman who conducted the service was Lauren West.
The irony of my find as I was looking for holiday decorations does not escape me.
I don't believe in coincidence.