With one inquiring text message from my youngest adult daughter, the day went from a normal routine of charades communication with my father that has lost most of his articulating skills to a free flowing waterfall of incredible stories and memories.
I relayed a question to my dad about family members that have passed on already so she could create a family tree project. One innocent question busted the rusted locks on a trove of memories and information within the recesses of my dad’s confined mind.
He didn’t struggle or stumble on word choice or stutter over syllables. His eyes were shining and his face was full of changing expressions as he spoke about each person and relived what he felt at that moment with that person. He laughed out loud and used his once active Italian hands to emphasize certain details of a story. I loved today. Today was a good story telling day, even when his eyes glazed over as he drifted off to a dark place recalling one memory in particular and told his story out loud to no one in the room.
I learned a few things today……..
I learned things that, had my daughter not been curious, would have been broken links to where our family came from and understanding the human side of our family history. These chapters would have been buried with him, taking away a gift to pass on and share.
Listening to all the different stories about family members and how they came to be or their children, I realized something. People have not changed at all, only the times and cultures are changing.
How did my father learn of these stories? How am I learning of these stories?
Through social networking……We know so much about everyone’s personal business now because social networking has expanded beyond human contact. I find myself wondering sometimes how people have changed so much with what they do in their personal lives now so publicly. Guess what? They were doing the same thing 60 70 80 years ago only back then the social networking was over the back yard clothes lines and family gatherings. It was the proverbial grape vine instead of the famed Facebook that kept the stories alive until they fell on my ears.
If you happen to have an elderly family member still available to you, go and sit for the day with them. Ask them questions about the people in your family and see what treasures they hold in your family troves. Chances are you will be amazed and intrigued by the scandals, scoundrels, heart ache, tragedies, love and laughter that run parallel to your life today.
Don’t lose the human touch and interaction. It is a necessity of life the same as water and the air we breathe.