Writing Family Matters

I'm lucky to have this bit of Mom's writing.

I’m lucky to have this bit of Mom’s writing.

How many times have you been sitting around the dinner table when a senior family member tells a tale of some past experience and you’re so drawn in, you forget you ate dessert? Before you know it time has flown by, grandpa is ready to go home and you are left craving more. We are pulled into the past as though we are gathered at the storyteller’s feet, listening to a favourite childhood fairy tale, “Once upon a time….” and we are enrapt. We want to know the stories of those who came before us.

When I was a child, my Great Aunt Mabel was like that. She knew the family stories and told them in such an animated way that when she started, we stopped everything to listen. Sad part is, she didn’t write them down. When she passed on, the stories passed with her and I’m sure I am not the only family member with regrets.

My husband has a dear family friend we call Aunty Marg. She is like that, too. Aunty Marg worked as a nurse through World War II, never married and was a world traveller. Her stories were vivid and she helped us learn about real life all through the 1900s. She has dementia now and although I did encourage her to write her stories for us, she did not. Now, my regret is that I didn’t write them for her.

Writing matters. All writing matters, but my focus is on legacy due to a deep and long held belief that story is important for strong family ties. Legacy helps children of every age hold a unique and indestructible sense of belonging. I want to preserve family story through the written word.

 

“My life story is too long to tweet.”

Jarod Kintz, Sleepwalking is restercise

In this day and age, where Skype and other social media have replaced the handwritten letter and, in many cases, a well-written email, it is a challenge to gather our experiences. Unless we take note and purposely record our stories, we’ll lose not only the fine detail of the true tale but we’ll lose the connection to our ancestors, our sense of belonging and our personal family history as well.

What written treasures will your family have to hold and share with their children and grandchildren? We want these stories and we want to revisit them time and time again. In each stage of our lives, we discover new perspective by rereading the stories left to us.

What’s your family story? Who is recording the stories that reveal what life was like when…? Who is your family historian? Could it be you?

6 thoughts on “Writing Family Matters

  1. I am our family historian but I tell my children about those who have gone before them. They need these stories especially as their grandparents are dead. Recently I have written the memoir of a Gentlemen whom is 86. I was extremely aware at the relevance of hi(s)tory and how it has helped me grow and learn – especially in my understanding of the conflict between Palestine and israel. He shared with me stories of what it was like there just after WW2. It has opened my eyes and given me a deeper understanding to something which was far removed from my life.

    This is why Writing Family Matters. Its important we know where we have come from.

    • I am so fortunate that my kids knew all their grandparents well. My dad’s birth father died when he was baby so he never really had that sense of belonging and knowing where he was from. I understand the importance of passing on story, information and lessons thanks to him. How great that you’ve helped someone give us his story. So important.

  2. Kathi – I know legacy writing is your forte and your desire, and you express it so well here. It is important to leave a written history, because verbal is wonderful when stories are being told, but often forgotten unless written down. I admire you for your perseverance in following through with your passion! And even though it’s not my family, I love to read your stories.

    • Thank you so much for your supportive comments, Dottie. I know how hard my dad tried to leave us a legacy. It would be a shame not to preserve it in some way that honours him. That’s a lot of my motivation to carry on with what he started and hopefully start a tradition for our family. I can’t thank you enough for starting me on this path! xo

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