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The Power of Storytelling Grandmas By Jana Greenhalgh, The Genealogy Kids

Our sweet Grandma Losee passed away not long ago. I had the great opportunity to sit on her bed each week during the last months of her life and listen to her stories. Till the very end, her brain was sharp, as was her sense of humor, and I laughed and cried at the stories she told me.

Having been a travel agent, she told me the stories of all the wonderful places she had toured. Having been the mother of nine children, she told me how she felt about her kids and shared with me her philosophies on motherhood. She told me all about her parents, who I had barely known as a child, and her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She told me about her childhood, her marriage, her favorite hobbies.

What do all of these stories mean to me? They mean a LOT to me.

I’ve reflected on my grandmother’s example. Her life lessons are a great inspiration in my own life. Her strength and positive attitude encourage me to be like her. Her desire to learn new things has fueled my own desire to learn. Her love for travel makes me want to see the places she saw. Hearing her talk about her heritage and seeing the pride and love with which she mentioned her parents and grandparents ties me to them. I have pride and love for my ancestry … because she did! Her stories give me something to remember her by. And if Grandma hadn’t been so willing to share, I wouldn’t have these fantastic stories to pass onto my own children and future grandchildren.

Hey grandmas! Tell your stories. (And hey kids … go make sure you’re capturing Grandma’s stories before it’s too late!)

There are so many ways to tell stories, but here are a few good methods for making sure those stories are captured, preserved, and passed on:

1. Tell your stories verbally (just be sure to turn the recording device on!) Thanks to modern technology, as Grandma told me stories during the last year, I captured every word with the help of my trusty iPhone, plus the “Memories” app at FamilySearch. Now that she’s gone, any of my cousins can pop into our family tree and listen to her voice. It’s a miracle. It’s like she’s still here!

2. Keep a personal history, journal, and/or scrapbook. My other grandma, Dorothy Hardman, was an amazing family historian. She spent countless hours organizing photos and letters and writing the history of her family. Our family is blessed by these amazing items every time we pull them out. Since her passing, we’ve digitized many of the scrapbooks. My father meticulously combed through her written histories after her death and reprinted them for distribution to her many descendants. All of this work has become a phenomenal treasure to our family. Anytime I miss Grandma, I can look through photos or open a book to read her words. Every time, I’m inspired.

3. Give stories as a gift. My fantastic neighbor Micki came over the other day. She showed me a beautiful hardbound book she had made for her kids and grandkids. In it, she had written the story of one of her ancestors. The story was simple, in words the small children could understand. Micki used the help of an artistic family member to illustrate the book with wonderful, colorful pictures. In creating her book, Micki fulfilled two of her bucket-list items: write a children’s book, and help her grandkids to be connected to their family history. The hardest part was simply putting pen to paper and getting started. So Micki’s advice to others: jump in and do it! Put your stories together and share them!

Grandmothers are amazing. And so are their stories.

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