Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our History

I sat and listened to my 80 year old grandma for several hours today. She reminisced about the old days, you know, the ones that had all the happiness and joy. The ones she wished she could live over. She ventured into those bad years, the years that seem to live over and over again in her head. Remembering the ones she lost, how they were lost, why they were lost, and what their life meant to her. I was fascinated. I sat and thought about all those memories swimming in her head. All those experiences lost in the sea of time. I would like to think that we all have memories that will forever live on but the reality is that everything will pass away. Sure, there are some things that will live on for longer than others but the truth is that they are history. History accumulates more history everyday and there just isn’t enough brain power for us to carry on other people’s memories. We carry our own. I now have a memory of sitting down with my Grandma and talking with her. I can pass down what she shared with me. I can share the emotional experience with my children but they will not have the same memory as me. I love history. Even though we might not be able to remember all that we hear or all that we study, history has a huge impact on our lives. When I talk about history, I am not only talking about our own past, I am talking about the pasts of others as well. It can change our course of action or project us into success. I love the fact that history is safe. There is no fear, worry, or uncertainty. It’s done, no guessing what comes next. There are deeper emotional attachments to history than there are when we think about our future. Yet somehow we consume ourselves with the future knowing full well that history can help us face the future with confidence.
As we closed the evening I couldn’t help but be shameful. I have several other older family members that I haven’t listened to enough. I feel cheated in a way as well. Why didn’t someone tell me this stuff was important? I am left with feeling hopeless that I will get a chance to share memories with them. I want to share their emotion when they talk about the joy, relive their sorrow, and recount their victories. The only way I know to help my history live a little longer is to write it down. No one may read it but at least it will be here if they want to. That way, if I never get a chance to sit down with my Granddaughter and chat about my past, at least she can read about it.

1 comment:

Treasurekeeper said...

I had a time like that last year when my grandparents came down. Lee knew just the right questions to ask and I learned all kinds of things that I didn't know about my grandpa before! Can you believe that I never knew that he and all of his brothers fought and survived world war II. My grandmother had nine children (three were adopted) and I guess she sees us as in their league now because these days when she writes to me she talks about back when she was raising her large family, something that she had never done before Abbi. It is really special to me, I have felt closer to them over this last year than I ever did as a little girl when I got to see them much more often. I am so glad that you got to have that special time with your grandmother :). And I know exactly what you meant by feeling cheated in a way :(.