My mother and I recently took a six-hour road trip. It was the first road trip we had taken together in probably fifteen years, and the last one was under not so pleasant circumstances. But this was a fun, girls’ road trip. I will admit I have difficulty focusing on one thing for any period of time, nut when one is in a vehicle for that long, one’s thoughts are more easily managed. There was a time when I did not appreciate the stories about the “old days”, but now that I have grown older, I relish those tales. My mother had expressed to my grandmother, before she died, that she should write down her life story, not necessarily in chronological orderg but just events as they came to her. My grandmother’s response was, “Some of those stories aren’t so pretty.” My mother wisely replied, “But they are what made you the strong person that you became.”
Though my grandmother never got around to writing her stories down, my mother shared some of them with me on our trip. The stories were rich and full of details and colorful characters, who at the time were probably considered an “embarrassment” to the family. But their personalities and characteristics explain a lot about our family history as well as our individual personality traits as their descendants. My mother encouraged me to write down some of my life experiences. While I’ve never considered my life to be terribly exciting, I realized in listening to our family stories that, generations from now, my children’s children might find them—as I did—to be revealing in a way. Our culture and our world is constantly changing. What seems normal to us will be a history lesson one day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a family history lesson that each generation adds to and hands down to those to come? If you are fortunate enough to have a grandparent or parent, I encourage you to take the time (or take a road trip) to listen to their stories. I think you will find a piece of yourself in them somewhere.