When I was a little girl, about 8 or 9 years old, I helped my cousin Kelly conduct an oral history of my Grandma Drow’s life. At Christmas that year my cousin Diane, who has lived out of state as long as I’ve been alive, sent my grandmother a “Grandma Remembers” gift. Now, we’ve all seen these books or kits at Border’s or Barnes and Noble. Or maybe you haven’t because you don’t spend all your free time at bookstores like moi, it doesn’t really matter, the point is they’re out there and they are very much worth the ‘trouble’ of purchasing and following through with filling them out.
Little did I know at the time we were doing this how much this simple gift and short oral history would turn out to be a very precious memory and invaluable piece of family history. That would last for years beyond my dear grandmother herself.
Bertha Catherine VerSnyder, what a woman. As I was cleaning the basement one day I came across the printed manuscript of that day and reread the life story of my grandmother. I read of her childhood in Leelenau, her courtship with my grandfather Fred, the birth of my Aunt Vonnie and my Dad (and ultimately all 5 of her children), and I remembered that a life was lived. I exist because she existed, my children exist because she existed, just as she did because of her ancestors. What an amazing revelation, and how sad that more people don’t cherish and try to preserve the life stories of our precious family members.
We all walk through this life for a very short time and when we are gone we will only be remembered by what we leave behind. Some people are great scientists, politicians, sports stars, teachers. There mark is well-documented. Others are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, no less remarkable but sadly less documented. I had my mother fill out a book about her life and a separate one about her relationship with my Dad. It’s something I know I’ll always treasure and no one can tell a life story better than the one who’s lived it.
I guess what I’m hoping is that people will be more thoughtful about preservation. In the immortal words of Simon and Garfunkel “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” I hope this wasn’t depressing. I really meant it to be more inspirational and informative.:P And because no blog posting is complete without a gratuitous picture of cutie babies…