Friday, December 11, 2009


I've always prided myself on my excellent memory. I seem to have a continuous memory since I was about four, when I started school. Before that, I have snatches of memories -- seeing a turtle in the water tank, sitting on my father's lap reciting the two times table, and loving the smell of the cheroot he smoked. I remember my mother bathing me in the backyard, feeding me peeled oranges. Smelling my mother's roses in the front yard, while I waited for my brother and sister to come home from school. So many memories.

Yet, when Julie, a long-ago friend from my Convent school days contacted me, I couldn't remember a thing about her, including her name. Same with Ruchi. Now I have very specific memories of sitting in the tree eating our lunch, running about and such, but I cannot recall their faces. I asked Julie to send me a picture, and she did, but nothing is coming back. I spent a great deal of time talking to these two girls, yet my sharpest memories are of girls that I wasn't even friends with. Julie was very kind, saying that we could start on a fresh note, but I'm disappointed that the two people I spent time with every single day, I cannot remember. How fickle.

I do have very clear memories of our home life and friends in the neighborhood -- the day to day stuff. I'm surprised that as much as I loved going to school, I only have scant memories of the girls I spent the most time with at the Convent. I remember many of the nuns, the school yard, the great big brush-land in the back, climbing trees, putting my hand out for a rap with the ruler, but not my friends, Julie and Ruchi. Deep down, I must remember something because these are two of my favorite names and they have made an appearance in some of my stories.

This makes me realize that I must hurry up and write down some of the stories about my mother. I have already written about half a dozen of them, but I want to have a little book of stories about her for my children, so that after I am long dead, the children will have something tangible about her. Although they know many stories about her, I don't know whether they'll remember after I'm gone.

I'm curious, how many of you write family stories? For yourself or to give as gifts?


Anonymous said...

I am terrible at writing down family stories, though I do tell them to my children quite often.

My mother-in-love is writing a book about her life so we'll all have it when she is no longer here. I hope that day is FAR away from now. I love that woman! :)

she is also keeping a scrapbook of stuff for my girls since I am so terrible about that sort of thing. I give her all their little momentos and such and she is keeping up with it. I wish I were better about it all!

There are friends I don't remember, either. I feel terrible about it, too - especially since they seem to remember me. Ugh.

Makes me all the more thankful for God's grace!


Bish Denham said...

I guess that's kind of what I'm doing with my blog, writing down family stories. But I feel I'm only scratching the surface.

Angela said...

I used to write them for my kids all the time - I told a bunch of stories about the remote cottage my grandparents had and our adventures there...I'd write them out and let the girls illustrate them. Turned out that my grandfather, sister, her kids, a bunch of people liked the stories, so that was really nice.

I love telling them about 'the olden days' when I was growing up!!!

Mary Witzl said...

A few years ago, I met a friend from grade school. She commented that I was the only kid she knew who had done what they set out to do in life. I was working as a rewriter/ translator at the time and had no idea what she was talking about, as I'd always wanted to be an artist. When I told her this, she shook her head. "You wanted to be a translator -- at least that's what you always said." And yet I have absolutely NO recollection of ever saying such a thing!

I try to keep my parents alive for my kids through my stories about them. They are both long gone, but I write them into the characters in my stories, and I tell my kids about the things they said and did all the time.

When my grandfather knew he was dying, he dictated a long account of his life growing up in Iowa, going out west with his father to homestead, being taught how to lasso dogs by the cowboys in town, working on the railroads, etc. I have his story still, full of mistakes and bad grammar, but one of my most precious possessions. I am so grateful he thought to write it.

Vijaya said...

Donna, so nice that your MIL is writing and scrapbooking. I gave a worksheet type journal to my in-laws and they're just not the writing types. Sigh.

Bish, I love, love, love reading your family stories and your relatives will especially appreciate them.

Angela, how sweet that you and your girls wrote and illustrated the family stories. They are keepsakes. I have a couple of little books I made with my kids like that too.

Mary, what a treasure to have your grandfather's stories. I also have some friends and family that I put into my stories. Let's hope what I think is charming about them, they do too :)

And I'm glad I'm not the only one who's forgetful.

Jen Heger said...

Oh, and 'tis the season to remember. Neither of my grandmothers were very good cooks, so they are not remembered through their recipes like Vijaya's mother (unless you're a fan of tuna-noodle casserole and deviled eggs!)

With one exception: one grandma made the best cinammon rolls, as did my mom, as do my sister and I...3 generations. They take time to make, and I always spend that time thinking of grandma and my family. When I give them to others I seize the chance to tell them all about her (she was a character and then some). We're all only 1 generation away from being forgotten, so keep those stories alive.

enjoy the season,

Vijaya said...

It's definitely the season to remember, Jen, and perhaps this is why it's hardest for when we're not with our family. Though food may be the most popular way to remember, there is music and hand-me-down quilts and clothing.

I'd love to try your cinnamon buns, dished up with a story.

Anonymous said...

I read Bish's comment about the blog being a type of journaling...and it really is. I don't write posts about my family everyday - but I do have posts related to them on a regular basis. I share snippets about our lives together. Snapshots. Those are good for me, as that seems to be how I remember things, anyway. :)

Vijaya said...

Oh, yes and Bish had an excellent post about writing those snippets.

Gah ... I can't find it. But the gist of it is that you don't try to start at the beginning necessarily, but just keep adding the snippets, snapshots you remember. And after a while, you've got enough to shape into a little book if you want.

Bish Denham said...

Forgive me Vijaya! I've tagged you!