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.”
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?