Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Future Personal Historian


At Thanksgiving, 2009, my eight year old niece, Lauren, (okay, Lauren, I know you're nine now, but you were eight then) was working on a school assignment that involved interviewing a relative to obtain portions of their history. I was beyond delighted to see her asking Mom the questions, as I've been working on Mother for ages to capture as many memories as she is ready and willing to share. Somehow, she seemed to be more cooperative with Lauren than she is with me! I'm only joking, Mom, as I know you'll be reading this!!
In my opinion, as a Personal Historian, who teaches workshops and works with individual clients to help them preserve their stories for future generations, it is never too early to begin interacting with relatives, asking questions, recording answers, and gaining a deeper understanding of the life experiences of these folks while the opportunities remain. The driving force behind my decision to participate in the Soleil Lifestory Network program to certify as a lifewriting instructor was relative to a tour of Pearl Harbor where I recalled that my own Dad had been in the Army, stationed at Schofield Barracks and was at Hickam Field when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was stricken with emotion when I realized that now, after being right there on the memorial, hearing the historical details, and having a heightened sense of what had occurred there, I had tons of questions to ask my Dad about his experience, but it was too late. He had passed away about five years prior to my trip to Hawaii.
I realize that many Veterans will tell you that they really don't offer much dialog about their experiences, particularly if it was as traumatic as his story must have been. What saddened me is that I had never asked. If I had ever sat down with him, small tape recorder in hand, and asked him the appropriate questions in a gentle, loving manner, I'm certain that he would have told me everything that he could recall. Shame on me for never taking the initiative. So that is why I drive my Mom crazy about wanting to preserve her stories, and why I think it was fabulous that Lauren has a teacher who understands the importance of giving an assignment of this nature. Kudos to all teachers who require students to spend some time interviewing a relative!
Tomorrow morning, I have a telephone consultation scheduled with a gentleman whose daughter-in-law was stuck sitting next to me on a flight last fall. Anyone who has the misfortune of being my captive audience usually gets to hear exactly what I do and why. She loved the idea that helping people capture their stories is my business, and she ordered a gift certificate for her father-in-law's birthday. She had recently given birth to her first child, and after her conversation with me, she knew that she wanted her son to be blessed with his grandfather's history. I don't know why it always amazes me that God brings certain people into my path at His perfect timing, but He perpetually does. As I teach my upcoming memoir writing workshops in Litchfield, SC, I know that I'll be touching precisely the people who will benefit from the knowledge I'll be imparting. The best part is that what I teach them will also positively impact their future generations. It's a warm and cozy feeling.

God bless & see y'all again soon!

1 comment:

  1. I know that God put me at the Newcomers' party to meet you and give me the opportunity to interview my parents before they passed away last year. I am so grateful and blessed to have them on tape and video, sharing their life stories with me (and my daughter and my granddaughter...and more (hopefully) to follow!)