HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 26, 2007, Herald Journal

Sharing family stories

By JENNI SEBORA

Sharing family stories with our children is enriching for everyone involved.

Family stories not only provide a forum for our children to learn about history and gain an understanding of different times and settings, they enrich the relationship between all of those involved.

Before my dad passed away, my husband would encourage me to record his life stories, and my biggest regret regarding my father is that I didn’t do that. I always meant to. My father shared wonderful stories with me, but I never recorded those stories on tape or paper. I guess I let those everyday responsibilities get in the way of going that extra step and keepsaking those memories to share with my own children right from grandpa’s lips.

I have memories of my father and many pictures that I share with my children, but it would have been wonderful to have documented life memories to cherish with my children.

My son was about 5 when my dad died, so he has some memories of times with grandpa, but my middle daughter was just a little over 1 year old and of course, my youngest never got to meet her sweet grandpa.

For those reasons, for my children to know their grandpa through his own stories would have been a wonderful, cherished gift for them and me.

My husband’s parents have both passed away as well, so I won’t let those everyday chores and responsibilities get in the way of taking time to document my mom’s memories in a special album, “Grandma’s Story.”

A year or so ago, at a public library book sale, I came upon such an album to document Grandma’s stories. It is an album for Grandma to show and tell her grandchildren about the way it was when she was growing up, for them to know that Grandma has a history.

A few weeks ago, we started on this memory journey with Grandma. She lives with us, so access to her stories is a matter of taking the time to focus on this most worthwhile family endeavor.

Everyone involved is enjoying Grandma’s story time, including Grandma.

We all have learned many things about her that we never knew. We have learned that she was given the nickname “Moochie” by her father.

We now know that is why she, too, calls my two daughters “Moochie” as well. I always thought it was cute, something just my mom and my daughters shared, but the nickname is even more special now that we know she too was a “Moochie.”

My children have learned that when Grandma was growing up, she had no indoor toilets, just an outhouse; no electricity, which meant no refrigerator or gas or electric stove; and of course, no television. She was entertained by a radio, her favorite radio programs were Ma Perkins and Slim Jim.

They also learned though that Grandma enjoyed some of the same games or at least versions of the games that they, too, enjoy playing, such as Red Rover, Long Base, Duck, Duck, Goose and just plain old playing in the snow and climbing trees.

We will continue on this memory journey with Grandma, documenting what it was like when she was growing up. In this experience, our children are seeing Grandma in somewhat of a new light. She is still Grandma, who gives hugs, kisses and cookies, but she is also Grandma with a history and a life story of her own.

Grandma’s Story will be a loving journal of memories to read and cherish for generations to come.

Just sitting down with Grandma and listening to her life story is a gift for all of us and will be memories we will cherish.

If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to take your children down memory lane with their grandparents or other loved ones. It is so worth it!

Quote

“All the wisdom in the world cannot, by itself, replace intimate human ties, family ties, as the center of human development.”

–Selma H. Fraiberg, author