I love physical history — things I can hold and examine to appreciate the journey they’ve taken to reach me. My favorite is old books and it’s a special treat when they’ve been inscribed for the original recipient. To: “Jimmy,” From: “Grandma,” with love. Their story has been lost, but is preserved on my shelf amongst the others.

When my wife told me she was pregnant, I knew the first thing I had to do was preserve our child’s history. I wouldn’t be satisfied with cute Instagram photos. I needed it to be physical. I took to the internet to buy a used camera and found one at a decent price. I waited with great anticipation, knowing I would now be able to preserve my family’s memories behind plastic and hardcovers.

It arrived and I felt like I was set. I started taking photos immediately. I wanted to know how to use this thing when the time came. Ten photos in, the camera made a noise. I looked down to see “Storage Full”. How could this be? I opened the camera to see that it had not come with a memory card. I went to my closest Best Buy and even though the memory card didn’t look right, the employee swore up and down that it was the one I needed.

I opened it and popped it in the camera. It wasn’t the one I needed. Back to the internet I went, finding that the memory card I needed wasn’t made anymore and I found an adaptor that I could use with a different memory card.

Once again, I was the prepared father-to-be, ready to capture my daughter’s first moments. About a month later the camera started turning off at random. It would turn back on and I thought to myself that as long as it stays on when she’s born, I will get the pictures I need and everything will be fine.

My first Father’s Day arrived. My daughter was still in the womb, and my wife, who told me it still counted, gave me something. I opened it to reveal an empty journal. Its pages had little cartoons in the corners of Darth Vader having a rough time trying to raise a young Luke and Leia. She told me that it was for me to write down my memories with our daughter.

I was filled with emotion as I stared at this empty journal. This was the greatest gift I’d ever been given. I would be able to write down my daughter’s history for her to read when she was older. Just like the priceless notes left for loved ones in my old books, I would be able to give her a piece of physical history that was truly hers.

I write in her journal once a month and even though the camera died once during the delivery, I was able to capture all the pictures I needed to preserve the moment. It’s what most important to me.

When I’m gone, I want her to be able to look through the shelves and boxes and see our story. When I write in her journal once a month, I tell her that I love her and about all the progress she’s making. The first entry will always be the best though, written on the day we brought her home from the hospital.

Our story, our history, had begun.

Photo Credit: Tim Theyson

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.

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Tim Theyson was born in the little town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His family relocated to Charlotte in 1989, where he has now lived for 26 years. He is an avid reader of all things, and an amateur historian of the golden age of piracy. His daughter Mary-Anne (named after pirates) was born in 2015 to him and his wife Meghan Theyson.

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