Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Old Stories

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Tim and I went to his family reunion. The weather was perfect, and it was well attended.

If you all remember, his family meets at the old family homestead, and we bake wonderous amounts of bread in an outdoor woodfired brick oven. This year, Tim oversaw the baking of the bread without the supervision of Uncle Herman, who is in his nineties now, and having some trouble with blood counts. He did get there, and he seemed to be energized by the family which surrounded him, and it did my heart good. His brother-in-law, Uncle Chuck has lost even more weight. A big robust man who serenaded Tim and I with a barbershopper song the first time I met him, Uncle Chuck is now thin. He ate little, and I heard him talking about his wife who lives in a nursing home and does not always recognize him.

Our elders are getting older. Gene (Hi, Gene) began to collect their stories, and I think that is a wonderful idea. "How many people were born in this house?" he said, pointing to the old homestead. He was. Other voices claimed it as well. "Who remembers the 4th of July parties when Uncle Herman and Uncle Harold would give us plane rides? Who rode in the plane?" And hands went up once more. I listened enthralled as memories were recounted.

We drove home in contented quiet, each of us with our own thoughts. "We need to get a recorder for these stories," I said to Tim, lost in the thoughts of life as it was when our frail patriarchs and matriarchs were young and running the festivities. When Uncle Herman was flying a plane (he crashed it, and according to his own words, Aunt Anna would not let him have another ~ he still has the wooden prop in his garage). When Aunt Ruby remembered Uncle Chuck. When Aunt Hazel was not slumped over in her wheel chair.

Their grandchildren are having great-grandbabies now, and it would be a shame if they never heard the stories of the people who came before them. I suddenly found myself wishing that I'd thought of it before. I worried about how many stories would be lost forever by the time next July rolls around.


Anonymous said...

Why do we only think of this when we are starting to face our own mortality. So many lessons we could learn from others we seem to need to learn ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I think about this kind of stuff even more now that the last of the older generation in our family died a few months ago. I really need to get out my Legacy Guide book and get to work!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is not my mortality that I view this through. It is the realization that we are are watching a generation step from 'this mortal coil'. It is their mortality I look at. They have been generous in sharing themselves to me, a stranger to them, a fairly recent one at that. I will grieve the loss of them. How much greater that loss will be to those who have loved these people and their stories for all of their lives?

BUSH BABE said...

Is Anonymous Debby? Anyway, the truth of it is that stories get lost every day. My aunt (a young 50-something) wrote her own book recently - a wonderful collection of images and stories, facts and recollections. We need to be responsible for our own stories too. I love that she did this for herself, for her kids. I think we should all do the same.

Anonymous said...

Debby is the second anonymous. Sorry. I keep forgetting that my blog doesn't recognize me anymore.

Pencil Writer said...

I think family histories are not just "nice to have" I think they are essential to knowing who we are and what wonderful heritages we have. I say go for the recorder and/or any other means you have of preserving that wonderful information for generations to come!