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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2006 Donald E. Lindman
530 words


By: Don Lindman

In his memoir Growing Up, Russell Baker, the New York Times columnist, reminisces about visiting his aging mother in a nursing home.  She no longer is connected to the present.  She converses, but with someone whom Russell doesn’t know, and she tells stories about places and people he doesn’t recognize.

Baker realizes that there are big chunks of her life that she never shared with him and now will remain forever a mystery.  It’s sad, he reflects, that when our parents can tell us about what it was like to be them, we aren’t interested, and when we become interested, they are no longer able to tell us.

That episode provided the impetus for Baker to write his memoirs, so that when his children become interested and he is no longer able to tell them, the story will be there in written form. 

Shortly after reading Baker’s book I had to deal with my own mother’s death.  In going through her things, my brother and I found photographs of people and places we didn’t recognize.  There were even parents that we didn’t recognize.

There was a picture of our mother as a young adult, dressed in a sailor dress and mugging at the camera.  Our mother didn’t do things like that.  And there was a notation about a date when they went bowling and dad rolled a 200 game.  The dad we knew wouldn’t have known what to do with the holes in a bowling ball, let alone roll 200.

All of this inspired me to start writing my own story.  I’ve gone at it sporadically, but I am working on it.  And I ‘m passing on the importance to other people.

Older people, in particular, respond to this in fascinating ways.  Most are skeptical.  They “can’t write,” they “don’t know what to write,” they certainly “aren’t going to share their memories with the people in this group,” and they “have nothing about which to write;” their lives are dull and boring.

But once they get going most of them open up like a morning glory.  One group of first-timers wrote about memories of the Depression (they were children then).  When I asked for people willing to read their memories to the rest of the group, one brave lady volunteered.

After she was done the rest couldn’t wait to talk about memories that the original writing had triggered.  Then more people volunteered to read what they had written.  We had a marvelous time.

The Bible is full of admonitions to parents and other adults to share their life stories with the children.  From the piles of stones intended to be conversation starters in Joshua’s day to Paul’s friend, Timothy, whose faith came down from grandmother to mother to him, the passing on of our life story is one of the most important opportunities God has given us.

Most of all, its fun.  You may not have many childhood memories now, but once you start writing you will trigger other memories.  Soon you will have more than you can handle, and your life will be deeper and richer as these memories come to the surface and fill out your life.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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