As you think back to your younger years and any family get-togethers that you attended, you were probably more interested in playing with any cousins that were similar in age than you were in spending time with aunts, uncles, or grandparents.
We weren’t generally interested in our parents’ memories, nor our older relatives or their history. Usually it isn’t until we are more mature that we begin to be genuinely interested in where we came from or put importance on our roots.
As we begin to establish memories of our own; places we’ve lived, friends we’ve had, and events we’ve experienced; we realize there are others who we are related to us that have had similar experiences. Some may become fascinated with mannerisms, physical features, health issues, likes and dislikes, and other similarities that we may find we share with them. Once our curiosity rises we may start to ask questions of our parents and grandparents about their own memories. How fortunate are those who reach this stage in their lives and still have access to those who can answer those questions. There are many who don’t have that privilege. If you have grown children of your own, there are things you can do to leave such a legacy for them to share with their own family.There’s a good chance that you won’t stir their interest until they are much older themselves. When people are so busy living their own lives they are not that interested in hearing about the “good old days”.
Something most children love, even grown up ones, is looking at their pictures as they were growing up. Today, pictures are taken without effort and in great numbers with the availability of digital cameras and cell phones. Photographs were few and far between in the times of our grandparents. Many of us 50 and over won’t even have pictures of our grandparents or other relatives of our parent’s. This makes the photos that we do have of that era rare and worth preserving. For safe keeping put them in albums with a description of who’s in each picture.
If you have children of your own you probably have kept some mementos as they have grown. Consider getting copies of the old pictures in your album and put together an album for them. When they are ready, put the mementos and album along with any relevant memories that you have recorded either in writing, audio or video in a box and give them as a gift.
My own mother is now the only one left of her family, she had 7 older siblings. On a trip back home to visit her a few years ago, my mother had one sister still living.
One evening we did something that we had never done before. My Aunt came over to visit me at my mother’s home. They were both in their 80’s. We got to talking about what it was like for them growing up in the 1920s, 30s & 40s. From the time that they were little, to their teen years, during the war, and about how their house got bombed, and that their father would spend most of his wages on drink.
In order to have money to buy food during the week, without him knowing they used to pawn their fathers one and only suit. They would pawn it on a Monday and get it back out on a Friday. One week their father had to go to a funeral on a Wednesday and needed his suit, but of course it wasn’t there and they had a panic on to try to get it back before he found out.
They talked about how everyone helped each other. Whether someone got married, had a baby or someone died, all the neighbors would help out.
Their father was very strict, so when he had had too much to drink and fell into a deep sleep their mother would let them go out dancing. They would have to go out the window and come back in the window when they got back home.
It was so interesting for me and fun for them to reminisce. We laughed till we cried at some of the antics they had got up to.
I so wished I would have had a tape recorder. There will never be an opportunity to have that conversation again. A year later my aunt passed away. I would have loved for my brothers, my aunt’s son and my own children to have been able to listen to that conversation. I felt really privileged to have witnessed that.
It is so important to remember when…And treasure relationships
By Debe Lange and Shirley Price