Yesterday my father and I chatted for a while about family and we exchanged a few stories of relatives who have been gone for many years. It occurred to me later that we are the only people left alive who know some of those stories. The only ones…
I deal in family facts every day. I find dates and locations and names for people. I help them find connections to relatives that were previously unknown. I help them find out where and when and how their ancestors lived. The information sometimes allows them to gain property or apply for membership in an organization or obtain a specific status. Sometimes it just allows them to feel complete, to feel like part of a group that has been going forward for generations. For the most part I’m only able to turn over a list of names and dates and places. But once in a while…once in a while I find stories that have been recorded by relatives or friends or the newspaper.
I love family stories! Some of them are tragic, some funny, some heartwarming. Stories add personality to the names on our family tree. Stories allow us to understand the dynamics of our family and the times in which they lived. Stories help us understand family traditions and customs.
Most family stories are oral ones, and if we are lucky they are shared at Sunday dinners or on road trips or at family reunions. If we are really lucky, someone in the family feels obligated to write down a few stories. A story written down by my grandmother was not only touching, but solved a family mystery. If we are blessed beyond measure there are authors in the family who write books. I know several people in Caddo who are blessed to have such family story books. I happen to own four books about our family.
Even with my knowledge of the value of family stories, I realized yesterday that there are many I have neglected to write down for future generations. There are bits and pieces of information I know about relatives that I failed to write down along with their birth dates and graduations and marriages. So during the next couple of weeks I’m going to devote a little extra time to adding some stories to my family tree.
If you could sit down with a sibling or parent today and tell a story that starts with, “Do you remember the time….?” and it ends with laughter or tears, you should write it down. Soon. Very soon.