I'm immersed in grandmothering this week. This is not an activity I have much experience with, although I achieved that status over fourteen years ago. Since our nearest grandchildren live about 1700 miles away, time with any of the six is short and precious. This week is the first time one has come to visit alone, and I'm enjoying every minute we are spending together.
For the past couple of days I've discovered how very little this young fellow knows about our family, and I've been telling stories more or less non-stop. Many of these stories are already written, but for this eleven-year-old, telling the stories is important. Now that he's heard them, sooner or later he'll be happy to have print copies. He's hearing stories about ancestors, about what things were like when I was young, about how we used to do things, and what I think about many things. He’s even hearing stories about his daddy.
But it isn't just “telling.” Dialog is involved, making these stories highly interactive, and easier for him to remember. We make frequent visits to the computer to look at old pictures too. That’s a great way to surface yet more stories. There really isn't any way to beat the power of telling stories in context!
As I think back, I've told many of these same stories to our older two grandchildren, but they already know a lot more about their family background. Visits with them tend to be less rushed, and the importance of the combination of telling/writing had not come through so clearly to me.
Although I say many of the stories have been written, I'm surprised how many haven't, and I've been making notes of those on my story idea list. The fact he hasn't even heard the stories underscores the importance of writing. His father has heard all these stories, most of them many times, but they have not been important enough for him to pass on, at least not yet. I’m reminded of a phrase that I think may have originated with Zig Ziglar: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Time with grandchildren — or any young relative — is a great way to regenerate your story well when it seems to run a bit low. It's a good reminder to get back to basics and not loose sight of the importance of Plain Old Stories.
Write now: a personal or family history story you recall holding your grandchildren’s attention. They’ll appreciate having the reminder, with details confirmed. If you don’t (yet) have grandchildren, write for future ones, or nieces and nephews.