Sunday, 8 February 2009
Passing It On
An author friend lost her older sister recently. Not only did she feel the loss of a dear sibling, but also the loss of the stories that disappeared with her. It reminded me of the many stories that might be locked up in the heads of our loved ones.
When I was an adolescent, my Grampy Louis Bernard told me about the day he was thrown from the back of a cart twenty miles away from the Halifax Explosion. Mom shared her childhood friendships and the songs she like to sing while sitting on the steps with her best friend Joanie (who also became an author).
Dad told me about his pet raccoon, and the time he saved his brother from falling down a mine shaft. At least, that's what I remember! I regret that his parents passed away when I was only seven or eight, but I remember a colourful story my great-uncle Edgar told about a mishap involving his wife, a carpet, and his buddies in the Royal Canadian Legion. My father was clever enough to plant a microphone on Uncle Edgar's hat during a Christmas gathering and I played that recording over and over again, enjoying Edgar's charming Acadian accent.
My adopted uncle Bob who lived next door for most of my life told me of the longest NHL playoff game. Ever. He also shared his story of the big snowstorm when he had to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys by sleigh because the roads were too bad for regular wheels. Oh, and also the story about the skunky pony.
Some of us are eager to hear the stories of those who have walked the Earth before us, and others can't see past the arguments and misunderstandings that build up over a lifetime or two. When relatives with their own valuable experiences pass on, their memories remain locked in their brains, never to be shared with the rest of us.
If you have aunts, uncles or grandparents - or even older sisters, ask them about the things that shaped their lives. You'd be amazed at the treasures you might uncover.
Image: Louis Bernard, my grandfather on my mother's side during his youth in the early 1900's