I sat on the edge of Guelito’s bed as we visited. He was more reflective in his speech and he finally asked, “Have I done enough? Have I made a difference?” As I looked at my dying grandfather and thought of all people he had served and influenced I was overwhelmed by his humble plea. I told him he had done all that was required of him and in a tender embrace, I had to ask if I was doing all that needed to.
That night as I sat in front of my journal recording the events of the day I was so thankful for these tender moments together with Guelito -- moments where he shared his life experiences with me. I haven’t always recorded the stories that he shared and I considered ways in which I, a mother of many young children could preserve more of his life.
- Use the technology. My grandfather was nearly blind, writing was not an option, but turning on my video camera in my pocket was something I could easily do as stories of his life began. My mother also gave him a tape recorder and sometimes he would record memories in privacy.
- Involve your family, especially the youth. Documenting someone’s life can be overwhelming, but if many people help not only can your get more accomplished, but more people can be influenced by experiences shared.
- Create a family website. Make it a place where everyone can share their stories and experiences.
- Keep things simple. Creating a formal history can be intimidating and often if the person knows they are being recorded they become self-conscious. Look for ways and opportunities just to listen. The stories will come freely.
- Don’t forget to ask the “why” questions. The who, what, where, and when are necessary in family history, but the why questions are often the ones that will have the greatest impact on your family. Look beyond the facts and you will find meaningful stories that change lives.
Whether you have a formal journal or a simple family history Instagram account, record the memories before you forget. Look for opportunities to preserve the legacy left to us by our ancestors. Every story matters. I am so grateful for the chance not only to record the stories and experiences, but to think about the way and how as I participate with familysearch. Today's post is the result of the question
What tips do you have for preserving the stories/legacies of grandparents?
I am certainly not an expert, but I come from a wonderful family full of people who are diligent in recording and preserving our families lives. My parents are wonderful at scanning and recording the lives of their parents and ancestors from photos and documents. I have video files that my parents created of Guelito and Guelita telling stories and experiences, which they have shared with their siblings and children. My uncles and aunts started a genealogy evening where they get together and talk about what they have learned and what work needs to be done. My cousins freely share photos and experiences of family members, like this wonderful one of Guelito (I can't remember who took it though... sorry). Together a more complete history is being compiled for our children and grandchildren.
If you would like to read the full post with inspiring ideas: Preserve the Stories of Grandparents Forever with These Expert Tips.
"The Africans have a proverb, when an old person dies, a library burns. “Our libraries” – our memories, stories, and knowledge – can be passed on from one generation to the next." by Valerie Elkins