Before I am daft, and in my dotage
First let me through my memories forage
I don’t want to nag, nor will I scold
But share with all, to my great pleasure
These tales, which are my greatest treasure.
My grandchildren love to hear stories, particularly about their mother’s childhood escapades. The time she didn’t heed parental admonition and got her boots stuck in a muddy farmer’s field on the way to school. The time when, while delivering papers, she noticed that a dog had fallen in a backyard pool and was able to alert its grateful owner. One of the great joys of keeping a record, that noted some of the most commonplace activities of our days, is coming back to those pages years later. To be able to read it vividly evokes the senses and memories of things long forgotten. I’ve kept a journal for over thirty years, and wish I had done it from an earlier age.
Another opportunity for collecting stories is in the sharing of anecdotes between extended family members. After the death of our grandfather, my sister badgered as many people as she could into writing a page of their recollections. She then put them together into a book that we still have more than twenty years later – “remember when Opa would send us to the Dairy Queen to get an ice cream cone for him and Grandma, then saying ‘well, you better eat it yourself because it will melt!'” It’s only in reading this years later that it occurred to me that this also would have been a convenient way to get the kids out of their hair for a while.
It’s also very important to glean stories in long ago family history. Time is precious and I now listen with rapt attention as my 93-year-old mother shares about her life. “When an old person dies”, the proverb says, ” it’s like a library burning down,” a loss of irretrievable information and wisdom. There are stories in treasured possessions. These tales yield greater insights as we ourselves mature.
Storytelling is our way of discovering ourselves, our world, the multi-generational connections that helped form the people we became. Stories convey the colour, humour, and pathos of the patterns traced in our everyday lives.