Every family tells about a relative that did this, or a time that thing happened, or when I was a kid. What are the stories in your family? As I was growing up, I heard so many stories about things my great aunts and uncles did, and now, I couldn’t even begin to tell about one of them. I heard them and loved them, and enjoyed hearing them again and again. I guess as a child, I thought the stories would always be there, that there would always be someone to tell them. Now that I am the same age as those who were telling the stories, I understand the importance of writing them down. It is so very important to write them down, impress upon yourself, your children or grandchildren the importance of writing them down… What to do now?
Now, is the key word here. Right now, write down the stories that come to mind. Go ahead, stop reading long enough to jot down a few lines of a story you are remembering right now…
Aha!, this is where another spiral notebook comes in–write down the thoughts you have about stories. something as simple as: Oh, I did just remember a story about my uncle driving and my grandmother. You could call it your ‘Remember the time that – ‘ story book. Jot down the quick thoughts and then later as you go back through it, you can elaborate on those thoughts.
If you have a hard time writing things down, but can say it out loud, this is a good time to use a digital recorder or the voice recorder/speech recognition on your laptop or tablet.
A good way to recall a family story is to start talking to someone in your family right now. Start with something simple like, Do you know how tall great grandpa was? Where did grandma live when she was growing up and what was it like?
This morning I was trying to think of what to tell my grandchildren when I write to them next. (I actually followed my own advice from my last blog and wrote a letter to my grandchildren about their grandmother. It was her birthday). I began to think in terms of what they could understand at their young age. I thought about the extra cold weather system we are having right now. What was it like for my parents, my grandparents even my 5th great grandparents to live through a winter.
I thought of how in my last letter I talked about my mother’s hands, drew an outline of my hand, asked them to draw an outline of their hand and then I thought, what about our feet? That brought to mind my grandfather’s long feet, of how tall he was and how short my grandma was. I thought of how all the men in his family are tall and most of hers were not. Then that brought to my mind the time I met my grandmothers siblings and how thrilled I was that they were shorter, like me, and how they laughed and told stories on each other and were so happy to see us.
Those are my stories to tell and that is why I am writing to my grandchildren today. I think that today I will tell them what I just told you. How tall my grandfather and his sons were. How short my grandmother and her siblings were. My grandfather’s long feet and cat’s tails and my grandfather not having any teeth and he could put peas on a knife without honey and they wouldn’t fall off when he ate them. How he was at my cousins house and she had music playing and he danced a jig at 87 years old! How he nearly always wore bibbed overalls, he and my aunt and uncles Adams apples.
Start with one thought about a relative and let it take you down memory lane. My family tells me I chase butterflies, because I can have so many thoughts trigger from one thought, and I can head off in a number of many directions. (As you just discovered in this whole blog today. For me it is a discipline to put blinders on and stay on one path).
Another thought – what if you don’t have any children or grandchildren to leave the stories to? Do you have any nieces or nephews? Any cousins? You have a treasure of memories to share. Share them.