Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: How can our family keep the stories from our grandparents alive?
A: My mind is racing with thoughts on this subject. If you’re lucky enough to live near your family elders, try to involve them in your everyday life as much as possible. You will be amazed at how much you will learn! I recently took one of my clients to a play at a local theater and discovered she had been in musicals throughout her high school years. A few days after my mom attended one of my son’s golf matches, she came over and presented him with my dad’s high school “letter” jacket for golf. In both instances, something valuable was gained from just being together.
If grandparents live nearby, but find it hard to get out much, consider a “family night” at their house. One friend brought her children to their grandparents regularly for casual dinner and conversation. Each time, the kids prepared a couple of questions and they recorded the interaction. She made sure the recordings made their way digitally to each of her children’s “time” boxes.
Sending emails or a good old fashioned letter are an excellent way to learn and preserve the legacy of your loved ones. Have your child come up with a question or two each week that they send to their grandparents, along with a story about something they did that week. The replies from their grandparents can be placed in a book afterwards (not to mention the grandparents will cherish the letters).
More family legacy tips:
Help with a memoir –Amazon.com has dozens of inexpensive guides for memoir writing. They include prompts, questions and space to fill in the narrative. These can become a treasured resource for the family (and historians).
-Use technology — If writing or emailing isn’t an option, due to poor eyesight or some other impairment record conversations that you have with your loved one.
-Create a family website or a private social media page, where family members can add thoughts, memories and family history.
-Keep things light — to maximize spontaneity and enjoyment of the process. Just prepare a few simple questions and look for opportunities to just listen.
-Ask more questions –as elders start to open up, ask follow-up questions to encourage further story telling.
My best history lessons have come from clients and elder family members. To hear them tell their stories with passion is one of the many gifts that I receive each day.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.