Family history

I just spent a week with my mother, who has a lifespan affecting illness (don’t you just love hospital jargon?)

When my mum dies, her stories will die with her. I’m lucky – she’s written about her life, but there are huge gaps, and though I want to ask her to fill them in, part of me resists. I’m still wondering if it’s fair to ask her to dwell on painful memories, instead of making her last few months as happy as I can.

Is it the writer in me that wants to fill in the gaps? If so, (I still haven’t made up my mind on that) then I should keep my mouth shut.

Tracing a family tree has become a common obsession, but though I’ve done a little research into my grandfather’s past and found that the parents he never knew really were actors, I wanted to find out what kind of actors they were, which plays they’d appeared in, why they were in Malvern in 1901 and why they left their children in orphanages on the south coast of England.

It’s the stories that interest me, much more than the facts.

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2 comments

  1. One of my biggest regrets is not writing down more of my grandparents’ stories before they passed away. And not for the facts, but because those stories were part of who they were, and by extension, part of who I am.

  2. There is so much history that becomes part of *us*. I am trying now to tell my boys stories that I heard from my father and grandparents. Thanks for the post. It hit home.

    regards
    John

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