Thursday, April 19, 2007

There Are Good Things Too.......

I always wonder what people think when they see me pick up their trash. I just can't help myself. I got a sweet card the other day from my friend Lynette in North Carolina. I have never met her, but she wanted to write and thank me. It was our anniversary of sorts. A little over a year ago I was digging in a huge pile of trash. It looked like someone had been evicted and all their stuff had just been put out on the curb. I initially stopped because sitting there was a huge printer's drawer. JACKPOT! So, I pulled over and started looking. I quickly found a photo album. It was a baby album of a little girl who had been born stillborn. It had her birth certificate, a little lock of hair and her sweet footprints. Immediately I knew this was wrong. No one would throw these away intentionally. I dug deeper and found more albums and two more baby books. ( This time sons who had lived) and searched until I could not find any more. I quickly loaded them into the car and went home.

What to do? I looked through every book. I saw the birth of all three of her children. Megan (born still), Colby and Dillon. I knew their names. I saw the boy's first birthdays, their first steps and the love their Mother had for them in her eyes. I saw Lynette get married and her honeymoon. Their family vacations and reunions and day to day life. I thought if this was an eviction then I probably will never find her. So I started looking in Megan's baby book. There were the baby shower pictures, the birth and a few pictures of sweet Megan. Lynette had filled out all the pages as much as she could and then the part where you record the Firsts and beyond was paper clipped closed. It was so sad, but I was thrilled to find she had filled out the family tree.

I decided to start with her father because I knew his last name would not have changed during the years. I looked it up on the Internet, hoping against hope he still lived in North Carolina. There it was plain as day and I called. I awkwardly explained who I was and what I had found and he said Thank you and that he would give Lynette my number. She called back very quickly and was thrilled and angry. She had moved from this area and left her photos with her ex-boyfriend to send at a later time. She had declining health and needed to be close to family and they all lived in North Carolina. She was so grateful. I said yes I have all of them. Megan's, Colby's and Dillon's and I will mail them to you. Then she became very quiet.

"What do you mean?", she said. I repeated it and felt confused. Had I found the wrong person? Then she began to cry. Those WEREN'T the pictures her ex-boyfriend had, but they were hers. She had stored them at a friend's home 10 years (now 11) ago and when they had a falling out the friend told her that she had thrown them all away. Lynette was devastated. All the records and pictures of the children gone forever. She never even told the boys (now teenagers) and she dreaded the day when they would ask about them. And Megan. The few pictures in her book were the only photos Lynette had ever had of her. She had resigned herself to only her memory of the short time she had when she was born. It was heartbreaking for her. The only thing we can figure is the friend did NOT throw them away, but later divorced and her husband threw them out. We probably will never know, but the important thing is they found their way home.

Lynette and I have formed a bond over the phone and she sends birthday cards to the boys and writes sweet letters to me. I felt like I knew so much about her from the albums even before I ever talked to her. Now when we talk she will say remember when I was in Florida (referring to the photos) and say yes and it goes from there. I have her memories too. Her children's childhood's forever in my mind. And sweet Megan and Lynette's grief. It is so important to preserve the past. Keep your memories alive. I feel like we do that in our art.

If you have made it this far, thank you for sticking with me. Below is the newspaper article the Fayetteville Observer ran about our story:)

April 1, 2006
Precious mementos
Section: Local & State Jennifer Calhoun
By Jennifer Calhoun
Staff writer
It had been 10 years since Lynette Poston had seen pictures of her stillborn daughter, Megan.
She thought the pictures, like her child, were gone forever.
But that changed when Poston, 38, who lives in Fayetteville, received a phone call in mid-March from a Texas woman named Jamie Miller.
Miller, 37, said she'd found a box of baby books and photo albums on the side of the road and believed the mementos belonged to Poston.
"I was confused at first," said Poston, who had lived in Dallas for 20 years and believed the albums had been thrown out by an estranged friend 10 years earlier.
"I had already grieved the loss of those things," she said.
Including, she said, the loss of the only pictures of her stillborn daughter.
Poston had left Dallas six months earlier to be closer to her family in Fayetteville because of her health problems.
Poston was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor about eight years ago.
Miller, a former teacher and stay-at-home mom from Removed for privacy, Texas, spied the pictures while driving near her neighborhood. The antiques lover saw an old pressman's table left on the curb. Next to it sat a box full of photo albums and baby books.
"I knew no mother in her right mind would throw those away," Miller said. "To me, it looked like someone was being evicted, and I didn't want that stuff to be thrown away."
After rescuing the box, Miller decided to go through the items to find out who the albums belonged to.
But what she found was a large portion of Poston's life.
"She was a total stranger, but I felt like I already knew her," Miller said.
"She had pictures of her wedding, pictures of her in childbirth, her children's first birthdays and even locks of her children's hair."
When Miller saw the photos of the stillborn daughter, she cried.
"It broke my heart. (Poston) just seemed so young to have to go through that."
Soon after, Miller found a phone number on the Internet for Poston's father, Larry, who was mentioned in the albums as living in Fayetteville.
After receiving the call, Larry Poston passed on the strange message to his daughter.
"I probably said 'Oh my God' about 10 times," Lynette Poston said. "(Miller) wouldn't even let me pay for the postage. She told me I'd suffered enough."
At the time, Miller didn't know about Poston's illness.
Instead, she says, she was moved by the meticulous way Poston had recorded the lives of her children.
"I just think that since I became a mom, I realize how fast time goes," Miller said.
"Once it's gone, it's gone. All you have left is what you record. If you don't have that, all you have are your memories."
Poston and Miller have become friends since their first contact three weeks ago, talking on the phone for hours at a time and laughing uproariously.
Poston believes the best thing to come out of the situation is Miller's friendship.
"I feel blessed right now, regardless of health problems," she wrote in a thank-you letter to Miller.
"I now have someone special to share these memories with, too."
Contributed photos
Staff photo pages 1A and 4A by David Smith
All archives are stored on a library system from NewsBank Media Services.


Lori said...

WOW! What a beautiful story! I can barely see through my tears.
Hallmark could make a movie out of this. What a wonderful thing that you did for Lynette and her family. This is just so moving I can barely think of words to describe how I am feeling right now.
I hope Lynette is doing well. I will send prayers her way.

Cheryl said...

one of the many reasons I think you are awesome

"Early Bird" said...

What a wonderful story!! Heartwarming!!!

Anonymous said...

What a touching story! I understand how pictures etc. can bring back memories. Soo wonderful that she got all of that back!
Thank you for sharing this story with us.

Anonymous said...

That is amazing! I think I would be devasted of I lost all of my phots. What a wonderful thing to do!!

The Feathered Nest said...

What an amazing story!! How sweet of you to take the time to return these items to the owner. In this crazy, mixed up world, it's so good to read a story about true kindness. You write wonderfully, too! Dawn

Dawn said...

Oh my God, that is the most amazing story I have ever heard! Oh, how wonderful of you to realize that those items should never be separated from their owner and what an amazing person to go through all that trouble to return them! I am my family's historian and I can't image what would happen if my files and photos and momentos of a 100 years of lives were lost. Thanks for sharing your story.

FrostingsNSparkles said...

Jamie, you are such a wonderful, caring person, which shines through in everything that you do. You are a gift :)

Halo Askew said...

Oh my god, Jamie! You never told me that story before! You're such an ANGEL! Seems like you two were fated to meet. *hugs*

A bird in the hand said...

I don't know you (yet), but I love you.

Judy said...

Brilliant post, thanks for letting me know about it, will link it on my site soon. What an amazing thing to do. Good on you.


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