Anne's Andelin Story
This is the first story I wrote to describe the idea that Jim and I were calling “Legacy” at the time. We needed to tell a story that described the potential uses for our App. This is the story of Anne.
Anne is 67. She lives in the home her father built in 1947, back from the war and ready to start a new life. The home is modest but sturdy, and has lovingly served the needs of three generations. Every corner houses memories, stories shared widely and stories known only to a few. Tears, sweat, and blood have worked their way into the floorboards. There’s a history there. Anne’s two daughters were raised in this house while her parents lived out their final years in the converted lower level. Three generations sharing a home filled with love.
Now it’s just Anne. Her daughters, Susan and Margaret, have families and homes of their own. Just a few years ago they lost Steve, a wonderful husband and father. But this isn’t a sad time for Anne, it’s a time for remembering, for reflecting. She knows she’s going to have to move on. She’s been using the Andelin App for the last year to preserve the history attached to the items that are truly important to her. She’s added her home to her library. In sixty years when a descendant of hers is in a position to make use of this home that’s been so important to her family, wouldn’t it be fun for them to have the home’s history just a search away? She daydreams of a great-great-granddaughter of hers compiling the stories Anne’s been preserving so she can write a report on the history of the family home for her fourth-grade class.
Today she’s decluttering in preparation for her move to Margaret’s home, sixteen miles away. A lovely home on the banks of the Opskisiwich River. They’ve created a space for her the same way Steve had done for her parents. She’s been deciding what to keep and what she can let go. Using Andelin makes it easier. Once she attaches stories to the objects she can’t bring with her, she finds she can release herself of the guilt she had always felt at this parting of ways. Some of these objects have been her responsibility for many years now—it’s time for them to make memories in someone else’s life. She hopes they’ll love them. Other objects have a tighter hold on her heart. The most delicate doily knitted by her grandmother, her great-grandmother’s baby bonnet. She’s long since added these items in Andelin. Her brothers and sisters have added their own stories, creating deep, many-layered histories. Though of course Anne wishes she could hear her mother tell the stories just one more time, to make sure she got it right. So she can hear the way her mother’s voice cracked and strained at just the right moments. So much character, so much life in that voice. Strength and vulnerability. The trials and joys of the different phases of her life. Moving across an ocean to escape horrors. Having so little, yet meaning so much to so many. She came over with almost nothing, which makes each remaining treasure so important. Now they’ve been recorded for the future. When Anne passes on, those memories won’t be lost.
She picks up a glass figurine she bought for Susan when she was 1. That’s right, isn’t it? She sets it in the sunlight and uses her phone to take the nicest shot she can, adds it to her library, includes a little story. It may not be the most important thing, but Susan will want it, especially when she knows its history. Fifteen minutes later, lost in a daydream inspired by an old book of crossword puzzles, her phone pings. Margaret added a story to the figurine. “Mom! I bought that figurine for you with my allowance when I was nine. It was 1984 and you let us girls walk to Kemper’s Drug Store the day before your birthday. I think it cost $6.00.” Oops, she’s right! Susan already has the figurine Anne was thinking of. Another ping. Susan weighs in, “Mom, look carefully at the neck. The head is glued on. A boy broke it at a party I threw over Christmas break in 1995. I glued it back on and none of you ever noticed!” There is a story, though not the one Anne had been thinking. None of them will miss it. She changes its sentimental value to a lower setting.
Anne is now 72 and living with Margaret’s family on the banks of the Opskisiwich River. This home doesn’t have the history and character of the old house, but the love is here. Margaret’s built a good life with her husband Larry. Every moment with her grandchildren—11-year-old Ella, and Stevie, who just turned 13—is a moment of bliss. The inevitable fights between them Anne views through the eyes of experience, sees how they’re a rite of passage they’ll have to struggle through. As they enter their teenage years, Anne finds her love for them grow, however surly they might get. Sometimes, when Stevie is making a ridiculously baseless argument, Anne catches a glimpse of her father. The meaning behind her wry smile is lost on the boy, who at his age can’t be bothered to understand. She decides to add a story to his Andelin Vault, which he can open when he’s 25. She’ll likely be gone, but maybe by then he can understand. If he doesn’t, he can look at it again later. One day he’ll want to know about his remarkable resemblance to his great-grandfather.
Anne has been co-curating an Andelin library for Ella and Stevie for most of their lives. With long-past relatives, the memories are mostly old photos, a few objects with great sentimental value, and touching videos of the people who were still alive to remember them. With the kids, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Curating their library of memories thoughtfully was a challenge in the beginning. Over time, it’s gotten easier to recognize the right types of memories to keep. This is reflected in their home as well, filled with fewer useless items. Anne noticed a change in herself once she became more conscious of the real attachment (or lack thereof) she has to the objects in her life. Her space is filled with fewer things but so much more meaning. Next Tuesday they’re taking a family trip to Peru to make new memories. What an opportunity.
The Peruvian mountains are beautiful beyond anything she’s ever seen. Anne is sure this is what heaven will look like. The family breathes deep the wonder of adventure. The kids are even getting along. And still six days left! It’s more than she ever could’ve hoped for.
The flight back to the U.S. has just landed. As soon as they turn their cell phones on, the news pours in. After a long winter with lots of snow followed by an especially rainy spring, the Opskisiwich River has overflowed its banks. Friends and family tried their best, but they couldn’t save the house. They managed to rescue a few things, but it all happened too fast. Almost everything is gone. Sure, insurance will cover much of it, but it’s still a huge loss. Anne remembers her mother’s stories and knows it could be worse. Thank God they weren’t home. They all survived. While it’s not exactly the same, Andelin has a lot of their memories saved. The stuff is gone, but not everything is lost.
In 2079, Ella is sitting on her front porch. Her grandchildren are visiting. All eleven of them here together, playing in the yard. An hour ago, nine-year-old Lyda had asked about the giant oak in the front yard. She wanted to know for school. So Ella had accessed her Andelin library and shared the video with all of the kids, about a swing Grandma Anne’s father had built for her. A sweet memory. She’s still amazed that her great-grandfather built this house. She remembers the flood that drove them from the first home she knew, how they moved near here, close enough for her to ride her bike past the house where Grandma Anne grew up. She would pass by every chance she had, wondering about the stories that might still persist within its walls. Marks from chairs her great-grandmother pushed back into place after a family dinner. The relatives she never knew sharing a meal at a table she’d never seen. At the same time she was riding her bike past this house, her mother and grandmother were preserving her family’s history in Andelin, but she wasn’t old enough to understand yet, and her curiosity about the place grew with every bike ride past.
Eventually she went to college and dated a series of men, each one less worthy than the last. No one had worse decision-making skills than Ella in her twenties, but she made it through. When she returned home, she met Dwayne again, again and for the first time, a steady man who’d been a close friend in grade school. He’d bought and restored her family’s home. They were convinced it was meant to be.
And they were right. The eleven grandkids raising heck in the yard were proof enough of that. But now a twelfth child approaches. He looks to be about 10, and he’s holding something caked in mud. He says he found it while playing along the banks of the Opskisiwich River. He looked it up on Andelin. He knew it belonged here. It had been lost in a flood. He handed over a headless glass figurine as if it were a priceless treasure.