David Weitzman in My Backyard History Book reminds us that “our history is not only lost to memory, but lost in translation, lost in crossing oceans, lost in moving from town to town or house to house, lost in fire, lost to time, lost when family members go their separate ways,” and if I may add, lost in youth, lost in arrogance, and lost in the busyness of our lives.
And now is the time, to take the time - before it's too late!
National Day of Listening.
November 25th recognizes our need to capture family histories through the stories of our loved ones. The Friday following Thanksgiving was established as National Day of Listening, a time set aside to sit down, begin or continue a Mondays with mom or Saturday with dad story-filled conversation – before it’s too late.
The National Day of Listening is an unofficial day of observance where Americans are encouraged to set aside time to record the stories of their families, friends, and local communities. It was first launched by the national oral history project StoryCorps in 2008 and now recurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, when families are more likely to spend time together.
It has long been said that our greatest desire, greater even than the desire for happiness is the hope that, in the end, our lives mean something. The need to tell our story is integral to our health and wellbeing. It's time.
It's Time To Get Started.
There’s no right or wrong way to begin. Conversation starters abound. Check out books on recording family history at the library, google interview questions for capturing, or just begin with your family favorite.
Don’t stress. Be sure to document the conversation via voice or video technology, or use a simple notebook to write the responses. Many gift the ever popular pre-formatted books in the hope that a parent or grandparent will fill in the blanks. In our experience we’ve found that most of those well-meaning presents remain empty. Why? We believe that the joy is in the telling with the nuances, nonverbal responses, and time-sharing. Make it a regular weekly memory session. The healing benefits of one-on-one time are mutual and will be cherished and remembered for years to come.
Be careful not to ask open ended questions, the more specific the better. In other words, do not say, “Dad, tell me about your childhood?” Research shows that the layers of life often cloud childhood memories. Instead, take the ‘story-by-story approach: “Where did you go to school as a child?” “How did you get to school?” “Who was your favorite teacher?” “Favorite subject?” “What did you do during recess, after school, on weekends?” “Did you have a pet?”
Be prepared with additional questions, especially for those whose story is deeply hidden or may be experiencing memory loss. You may not need them, but keep them close. Be prepared for side roads, when the story goes down an unexpected path. Remember, this is often where the jewels are.
Then simply listen. Be careful not to interject your own stories. Listen to the old, much rehearsed tales, those that have been repeated over and over. Silence that inner voice that says, “I’ve heard this story before.” Then like a story detective see if you can delve into the backstory of what happened next, who else was there, what did they wear, what time of day or season was it? The possibilities are endless.
Legacies is here to help.
Whether you wish to do the project yourself but need someone to keep you on track, love the idea but don't have the time, or started and don't know how to proceed - let us know.
With holiday celebrations right around the corner, wouldn’t it be wonderful to provide a gift that says: “Your story is important to us and we want to preserve it.” Legacies will design a certificate which says that over the next year your story will be captured and preserved through interviews and creative vehicles so that future generations will know and remember you. Literally - the gift of a lifetime.
Let’s get started - - before it’s too late.
The dying of a parent is a time without answers.