Have you noticed family story telling times - around the dinner table, the fire, even in the automobile are disappearing? Such a shame. How will we learn, remember and pass down the family legends? How can we really know our ancestors? Their biographies don't tell us who they were. Their stories make them come alive.
For a fee there is an online company to which family members can send their questions for grandmother, granddad, mom and dad, or whoever is the giftee. The company forwards the question to the indivdual . The individual writes a response to the questions. The company saves all the questions and answers, unedited; and compiles them into a booklet at year's end. An easy solution to recording our history? Yes. What's missing is our ability to capture the emotions, the face and feelings that belong with the words.
There IS another solution. How about having a memories meal or two, or three, or more? Questions not yet answered get asked: What was it like growing up in a family of nine kids? What are they doing now? How did you and granddad meet? Do you remember your grandparents? What were they like? What did they do for a living? You will never run out of questions. And the one answering the questions? Well, who doesn't like talking about themselves - and reaching back to include the people and places that made them who they are?
Forget those little cards people pass around at dinner parties to 'start' a conversation. Each family has stories we tell over and over. No matter how many times they are told they make us laugh or cry. One of our family favorites, retold for more than seven decades is of our brother. Jim dramatically enters the small room; wearing a scruffy jacket, three cornered hat, and chest covered with as many medals and braids as he could find. Standing with a military air, his hand thrust proudly inside his jacket he announced: I AM NAP-A-LON. Just saying the word nap-a-lon in our family brings the memory into full focus. We watch and see stories of Napolean, and we think of Jim.
There are so many questions I wish I had asked. So many gaps in the little book of memories. I have a lot of facts. Facts are not stories. My father passed away more than 60 years ago - and yet, when I repeat certain stories, there he is - Irish eyes smiling - and relishing the retelling of special times we shared. Such a gift.
Take time to ask questions. If the questions and answers are written and in person, even better. Whether the answers are sad, happy, unexpected, or quite amazing - I promise; you will be glad you asked the questions.
Question: What's holding us back?
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