Pass It On

by Alberta Kisling

[ NOTE:  This story is also available here, using the new SWAY application ]

Several in our creative writing group are writing life histories for their families.  A number of people here at the Village have already written books.  Have you considered how you will pass on your family history?

There are many ways to do this and you don’t have to be a gifted writer to do it.  Making a recording is a wonderful way!  To be able to hear your voice after you are gone is a precious gift to give.

Have you ever interviewed family members, dear friends, or someone you admire?  It helps to have questions that trigger memories and special stories:  who was your best friend, what were your favorite games, describe a typical school day, how did you decide your life work what was the saddest day in your life, what was your favorite book, song, trip, pet?  You can create the questions to glean the information you want.

Look through your photographs.  Many of those pictures will trigger a story or a piece of history that is important.  It is so easy to reproduce pictures and they are a great addition to any story.  Make sure they are labeled and dated.

My mother placed great importance on passing on our family history.  I have a tape recording of an interview with her and my father.  Occasionally I have questions I wish I had asked–too late now.

We all have family stories that happened before we were born.  Those should be passed along also.  Here is one from my father’s childhood.  The crows were a nuisance near my father’s rural farm home.  He and his sister spotted a nest in a nearby tree and decided to kill the baby crows.  My father climbed the tree, and looked at the baby birds and hollered down “I can’t do it”.  She called “Throw them down, I’ll do it.”  Down came a baby bird.  “Stop” she shouted, “Don’t throw any more.”

Sometimes it may seem the younger generation isn’t interested in the family history or some family heirlooms.  It is just not on their radar yet.  The day will come when they will truly value you stories and they will be so grateful you passed on the gifts that were given to you.

[Birdie Kisling is the main driving force behind the Quaker Story Project]

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