Monday, July 02, 2012

Preserving the Past


Natalie Marshall, a junior at a Dallas high school, recently wrote a column for The Dallas Morning News about how precious memories are. She was inspired to write because her grandmother has Alzheimer's, and the old lady's memories are fading, but that wasn't the main point she wanted to make.

Because of the mental devastation of the disease, Natalie's grandmother's behavior is changing, and she is not the same loving, kind person she once was. Natalie wrote that the now is not how she wants to remember her grandmother. She would rather her memories be centered around the grandmother who laughed a lot, loved to sing, and was always active.

The stories of her grandmother's travels and her work with American Indian children in Colorado, and the special family times of laughter and singing are the stories that Natalie feels an urgency to preserve. "So that when our minds can't hold them, they live on."

Natalie mentions a book of family stories that her maternal grandfather wrote about growing up during the Depression, serving in combat in WWII and Korea, and raising his family. She wrote about how she treasures the stories because it keeps her connected to the grandfather who has since died, but there are other important reasons to write family histories."The courage drawn during hard times inspires the next generation to persevere. Each person is unique, and storytelling gives us a glimpse into someone's soul. Through stories you step into a person's shoes, into a time other than your own, and become immersed in his or her world."

Maybe Natalie will help her grandmother with a book of her history, before it is all lost in forgetfulness. That would truly be a gift to the whole family.

The important moments in history are just dry facts until they connect some way with someone in our family. The Depression is just history until a grandfather tells a grandchild how his family survived. VJ Day is just a date until a grandmother shares what it meant to go watch the celebratory parade.

Lets all be sure to capture our stories and preserve them for our children and grandchildren.

2 comments:

LD Masterson said...

Something we all should do but put off until it's too late.

Maryann Miller said...

I know, LD. I did not get my mother-in-laws story before she died. We kept talking about doing it, but never did. Sigh....