Monday, July 7, 2008

The Talkers in the Family

photo by Karen L. Alaniz
"I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her." -Rodney Dangerfield

I can't be the only one who has a few "talkers" in her family. Maybe it's your Uncle George who keeps telling the same stories over and over. Perhaps it's your Grandma Susie who has a story for everything. Or maybe it's your cousin whose stories of childhood have you rolling on the floor with laughter. It might even be a neighbor, who just seems to spout words of wisdom in passing. We all have them, don't we?

But the thing is, we also sometimes have little conversations with ourselves, when we see them coming. They start something like this;

"If Grandpa tells the story about his car breaking down on his first date with Grandma one more time..."

"I'm really not in the mood for Cousin Jeanie's stories today..."

"She never listens to me. She's always focused on what story she'll tell me next..."

Well, here's the funny thing; the more some people talk, the less we listen (I suspect that's true of Rodney Dangerfield's wife). But what if there were such a thing as a Life-Long Calendar. What if you could turn to January 22, 2009 and find out that that date would be Cousin Jeanie's last day on earth. Would you look at those stories differently? What would you do differently? How would you spend the next few months?

I know what I'd do. I'd listen more carefully. I'd try to commit each story to memory. I'd purpose myself to get those stories recorded. Whether with a tape recorder, a video recorder, a computer word processor, or just old fashioned pen and paper, I'd get them all saved for myself and for future generations.

Are there people in your life right now whose stories are flitting around in the wind? Pin them down, record them. Start small, if you must. Commit to writing down one story from one of the "talkers" in your life. They'll be flattered that you asked. And the fabulous part is that when you write down someones history, you are making history at the same time. So go ahead, WRITE NOW - BECAUSE IT'S LATER THAN YOU THINK


colbymarshall said...

I found out recently my grandfather and grandmother once had a mom didn't even know about it! I was glad we talked that day.

Lillie Ammann said...

My grandfather was a cowboy and used to tell wonderful stories. He died when I was twelve years old, and all his great stories were lost. No one had ever bothered to write them down, and when he died, his stories died with him. I'm glad that both my mother and my mother-in-law wrote about their own lives to share with family members.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Colby- Time is an amazing gift we give others and it in return is given back to us.

Lillie- That's so sad. If you can remember any of them, write them down. They may not be perfectly accurate, but still a piece of your family history. You really lucked out with a mother and mother-in-law writing their own stories. If only we all did that, nothing would ever be lost!

Lillie Ammann said...

Unfortunately, since he died 50 years ago when I was 12 years old, I don't remember a single story. I just remember that all the grandkids used to love to gather round to hear his stories. My mother remembered one of the stories and included it in her memories, but she asked everyone else in the family and no one remembered anything.

Barbara Martin said...

It's surprising what you can learn from people if only you listen to what they are saying.

I've remembered many of the stories my mother told me about her childhood on the Canadian prairies, and occasionally I post a few of them along with photos that set the mood or background.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

I'm going to check them out right now Barbara! ~Karen