Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Musing - Family Stories

Today Octamom issued the challenge for us to write out the oldest "family story" that we know. Sadly, even though my family is REALLY into telling stories, the ones I know are always about my father and aunt, my sister and brother (who are 17 and 19 years older than myself) along with my aunts three boys who were the same age, and about me, my younger brothers, and my cousins (which I've lived through).

The oldest story I know is that of my grandmother, whom I called Grandmama. She had two suitors when she was a young woman. She asked her mother how to choose between my grandfather and the other guy. (I think he was a jock, if I remember correctly.) Nanny told Grandmama to go home and have dinner with both families, watching how both boys treated their mother -- because that was how they would treat her. Apparently that's how she chose my Granddaddy. He was polite and loving with his own mother, and she knew he would be with her.

I know that my Granddaddy became a dairy farmer during the depression and that his family of four suffered little during that time.

I know a LOT of stories of my father as a boy, a young man and as he grew older - and at least the names of all of his wives -- EEK! I know a lot about my aunt, her courtship with my uncle (and they're still married!), about their children and grandchildren. I know a lot about my older brother and sister, as well as my younger brothers.

I know almost nothing about my mother. She passed away from complications from breast cancer in the early 70's. I was 2. My sister doesn't even tell me many stories of Mama's - childhood or womanhood - though I suspect she'd heard them. Only recently have we reconnected with my aunts from that side of the family, and I still have yet to meet them.

Octamom is right. In our society, photographs are taking over the role family history story telling. Photos are wonderful pieces of information, but if we lose the stories behind them, they suddenly lose a lot of their impact.

My Grandmama (her name was Odette -- which I've always been proud to call my own middle name) died when I was 14. After she was gone, my aunt found a photo of her stashed away in her things of a young Odette in the 1920's dressed in the "flapper girl" dress and sitting on the hood of a car. Oh how we ALL would have loved to know the story behind that photo!!! Sadly, now that she's gone, no one knows.

Share your photos, but also -- share the stories behind them. We need to make sure our children know their history, from their parents to grandparents to great grandparents and beyond.

Octamom's post has inspired me even more. My sister and I have talked about wanting to record all the stories my aunt knows (as she's the last one left on my father's side of the family), and I think there's no time like the present. After Robbie is born, I think that plan needs to be set in motion. I want those stories to pass on to my children and grandchildren!


Octamom said...

Love this--such a poignant post about needing to know the stories behind the pictures--

be sure and let us know about the stories you and your sister gather!
Happy treasure hunting!

BoufMom9 said...

What a wonderful post (and idea for a post)
I have always been so into family history that I have always questioned everyone about the whos, whats and wheres of my family, so I am lucky enough to know a lot of my familys' past and have started to share with the kids too.
It just makes our lives so much richer to know what we come from :)

Anonymous said...

One of the good places to keep stories is in the genealogy database - but the delicate part is that some stories are, um, colorful. For instance, one of my mother's cousins had a child by a lover who was not her husband - so she divorced, married her lover, and then had another child - by her ex-husband. So she got divorced again, and the two ex-husbands moved in together. Isn't that a movie-worthy plot??

Cheryl Lage said...

Oh Gail, I am so sorry you lost you mom when you were so young...and I LOVE that your middle name is that of your flapper dress wearing G'Ma!

A lovely, lovely post.

Just me said...

What a neat post! I will be sure to tell that story to my girls when they are older, to watch how their boyfriends treat their mothers. What a terrific point!

Thank you for sharing:)