Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stories

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with 85-year-old Mr. Housley. He tells great stories of his experiences in life. He was in the CCC, building dams and planting trees. He was in the navy in WWII, on a troop ship of 7000 and sailed in the South Pacific. When he was 21 and his sweetheart was 14 they borrowed his brother's truck to go to town and got married in a 'drive thru' service without their parents' knowledge. Then they were so scared they went home to their respective houses. He worked at 'the company' (Tennessee Copper Company) for over 40 years, as did most of the folks in his small town. He would go to the company store for groceries or supplies and it would be charged and taken out of his paycheck. He built his house and houses for all his kids nearby. His wife passed away 10 years ago. He now has a lady friend. He grows pumpkins and greens and has bees and honey.

I hope his family finds a way to preserve his stories before it is too late. An author friend of ours in Texas was recently commissioned to write the 'life story' of an older person. He interviewed the person and gathered pictures from the family, wrote the story and compiled it into a book. I recently heard of someone at the local nursing home writing down the stories the residents had to tell. We have a video tape of my grandmother telling of her past, and one of Buddy's father being interviewed about the past by his grandson, Ethan, for a school project (thanks Ethan!). The stories and pictures are great, but I think seeing them on the video tape telling their story in the first person and being able to see their faces again and hearing their voices is priceless. We should try do more to preserve family stories so the little ones coming along will get to hear them, too.

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

2 comments:

jellyhead said...

It is so true that the life stories of our elders are priceless.
I am sad to realise that I've left it too late to record any of my grandmother's memories, as she's recently had a series of 'mini-strokes', and now has trouble even finishing a sentence (mainly because she has difficulties finding the words she needs). The one saving grace is that my beautiful Mama used to be an accomplished writer, and has recorded many of her experiences as short stories (albeit with 'writer's licence'!)
Perhaps it is not too late for my Grandpa, who at 91 is as sharp as a tack...
Thanks for making me think about something so important

Alice said...

This posting really made me sit up and take notice because the subject of writing one's family history or life story is one of my passions. As our tutor at a course on Writing One's Life Story used to say "Everyone has a story to tell, and that story is interesting to someone". Over the past two years I have been writing short stories about my life for the benefit of my children, who lived a quite different life to mine. Whilst they may not have time or the interest to read them now, there will come a time when they certainly will.