I recently read a magazine article suggesting that we learn about our family’s history and everyday experiences by asking our parents, grandparents, and other relatives about these things. I suppose this is a good idea in theory, but the concept is so foreign to me that I only comprehend it in a somewhat fictional sense.
My father died when I was nine years old after a lengthy illness. My mother was incapacitated for the last 30 years of her life. My stepfather died a month shy of his 51st birthday. My last grandparent died 40 years ago. My grandmothers were gone by the time I was a few years old. Granted, I am 59 years old now, but hearing stories from my parents or grandparents has not been an option for decades.
I do have some knowledge of family history. My parents used to tell me stories about long passed relatives as we would plant geraniums on grave sites when I was a young child. I even occasionally had a face to go with them. We had a giant box of old photographs, some going back to the 1800’s. There were even a handful of tin types. They really weren’t much different to me than some of the books I would check out of the library though. I could relate better to Laura Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods than I could to the stern looking folks whose images were recorded in those black and white photographs.
If you have family around to talk to about these things, go for it. You never know how long you will have that opportunity. And I’m sure it will be an informative and bonding experience.
If that ship has sailed for you, as it has for me, there are many other rewarding relationships in life. Don’t forget about siblings and children. And the love we have for friends can sometimes be equally dear. None of us is a lone ship adrift. We form relationships as we go through life. And as we acknowledge those relationships, let’s make them matter.
It’s not only about the histories that we have. The legacies that we leave are equally important. I hope that during my time on this planet, I am able to make people feel special and loved. I want people to feel worthwhile and know that they are important after they spend time with me. I think it is important to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. To leave the world, a better place than we found it. History is important, but today is for living. Live well. And peace be with you.