Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Story, Your Story, Our Story

I'm starting a writing project of my own.  It won't start with the writing part, and I have procrastinated around the research part for years.  But, I'm ready now.

My grandmother died the fall of 2009 and I remembered listening to all the great stories about her, remembering the stories she told me about her life growing up and thinking, "Somebody ought to write this stuff down!"  I played around with the idea for a while, but didn't.  A couple weeks ago, my uncle Carlton, her oldest son, died.  Again, the family gatherings were filled with these great stories, my grandmother's and my uncle's all meshing together.  I had the same thought.  3 months ago, Isaiah's boss died, and she was a long time family friend.  So Isaiah's dad came from Jamaica for the funeral, and through a series of conversations, these great stories came out.  My father-in-law isn't much of a talker, so I hadn't heard much of his story growing up.  Some of the stories that came out were moving, and gave meaning and dimension to his later life choices and define him in so many ways.  I thought, "Somebody should write this down!"  Isaiah has some great stories, and one day I began to think that his mother may have some even more interesting and clarifying stories, about him, about the life they lived together, about their family in the country.  He heard some stories at his grand-dad's funeral (in May) and though I wasn't thinking about writing grand-dad's story, I thought about gifting Isaiah with some of his own stories.  Maybe next birthday....

Our stories connect us to the generations that have gone behind, and help future generations to connect to us.  Simonne, in her 9 year old insightful way, commented that she will write in her journal so that when archaeologists find it way in the future, they know what life was like for a girl in 2011.   My family is from a primarily oral tradition.  Stories are told.  But as the world has changed, we aren't taking as many of those opportunities to sit and tell our stories, to connect ourselves to each other, to weave the web that only a story can create.

I remember learning about the Mesopotamians in 7th grade history, and feeling extremely disconnected.  it was a total waste of my time.  I love history now, and am realizing that if I don't know where I fit in the scheme of things, the content had no impact on me.  As I talk about history with the kids now, I'm making it our story, the story of people, what we have done in the past, how we can build on it in the future, changes we may want to make going forward.  The Mesopotamian study, building life by the river, living in one of the most fertile places on the earth and creating opportunity out of it, that is our story.

So, my aunt is still here in NY, visiting with my mom until Sunday, in the wake of my uncle's passing.  I'm going to get the video camera and tell her to start talking.  I want to start documenting these stories so that my kids and their kids can have the connecting threads, if they want to have them, so see what life was like, to know the giants whose shoulders we stand on, to laugh with their antics, so very much like our own and to understand some of their limps.

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