Friday, September 05, 2008

The Importance of Elder Storytelling

I've written a great deal both here and in "Write your Life!" about the importance of life stories, both the stories we write about our own lives and those we write about our loved ones. In an article in the September 4 Chicago Sun-Times, Maureen O'Donnell wrote a story entitled "My father's stories inspired me to write" that reinforced my belief that we need to listen to our parents and grandparents' stories before it's too late, and either help them to record and/or write down those stories or write them down ourselves. Such stories are too valuable to lose!

The article begins, "My father, whose storytelling made me want to be a writer, listens to stories these days because he can do longer tell them. He is very sick." Her father was born in Ireland in 1921, and his stories of life in "the old country" were a form of time travel for reporter O'Donnell. She mentions a few of his fascinating experiences: Irish country life involving bringing in the cows, making hay, and selling turf; World War II in London; school life; seeing American cowboy movies.

I hope that Ms. O'Donnell has written or will write more about her father. "With his sharp, probing mind, given the same access to education that I had, Dad could have become a professor of history. Instead, he gave his love of knowledge to his four children, and, by extension, his eight grandchildren."

Read Ms. O'Donnell's article, and think about your own relatives. Don't let their fascinating life stories be lost.,CST-EDT-maureen04.article#


Darlene said...

I am the elder in my family and I wrote my memoirs several years ago and gave copies to my children. Later I added my biography to my Memoirs and am now adding individual stories of family members.

I don't think my children appreciate them (they have heard most of the stories so it isn't new to them), but I hope my grandchildren will.

Perhaps my writing will be a glimpse into the times of my generation for those yet unborn.

seniorwriter said...

Good for you, Darlene. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have a chance to know you in years to come.

One Woman's Journey said...

Darlene with my new online journal I plan on going in this direction.
There are so many stories that my parents and grandparents told me.
If I do not record them for my children and grandchildren they will be lost forever.
I agree about our children. But maybe my two little grandchildren that are 3 and 6 will find them facinating in days to come. If not I am having fun writing about them.