Julie Lyles Carr: Monday Musings...Family History

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Musings...Family History

"Heirlooms we don't have in our family. But stories we've got."
Author: Rose Cherin

My family has always loved telling stories, reciting the humorous experiences of days past.  Because of our story-telling proclevities, I am fortunate to have several little pieces of oral history tucked away in the memory banks, little glimmers of the lives of my grandparents and even a few little tales from the lives of my great-grandparents.
M's glorious 96-year-old Grammy passed away in February and I put together a video of her life, delving into piles of pictures from her journey whilst on the planet.  While I do know several stories of her life, I was still so struck with the number of pictures for which I had no information, no adventure to attach to the square of celluloid.  
And it got me to thinking.
Our generation is becoming illiterate in oral history.
Oral history used to be the means by which the wisdom and chronicles of the ancestors were passed down to the future generations.  Families told each other the stories of their families, the recitations of lineage and language and lore.

We don't do that much anymore.
I think it's because we rely on the film mediums of photographs and video and we assume that we are capturing biography.
But I learned in putting together Grammy's video that while I had some beautiful film resources of her life, I had not often asked for the stories behind those images.  And some of the photographs were so interesting, it made me a bit heartsick to not know the memoir behind it, even though the individuals appearing in the photograph had been carefully catalogued in ink on the back of each picture.
And it made me realize further that while I do know some of the biographical sketches of relatives back to about my great-greats, if you will, the stories of those great-great's parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are not known.  Those stories didn't get passed down, weren't handed along in a genetic assembly line of connection.
I look at the scratchy black and whites I have from some of those generations.  And I wonder.
I wonder about their dreams, about their fears.  I wonder how some of them worked up the courage to head for new land they knew nothing about, to farm and sweat and build a life.  I wonder how they saw their lives, how they saw their purpose in their sojourn here.  I wonder.
And so, my Dear Readers, I challenge you.  Tell me a story of your family.  Tell me the oldest one you know.  If you have one about Great-great-great Grandma, share it.  Create your own post and link it here in the Mister Linky box below or tell one in the comment  box.  Exercise that oral history and tradition.  And remember to tell your own stories.  Your great-great-great grandkids will want to know.

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