Friday, March 4, 2016

Importance of a Story, Your Story

I stood at the kitchen counter this morning and thought, “Did I take my pill?” It was something I would have done less than an hour before. In slight panic I thought, “Retrace your steps. How could I tell? What would be different?” Then I saw a glass in the sink, “yes, I took it with lemonade, just after I sat Shelby’s out.”

Now, this may happen in your house often. I know with the business of life we can all have times where our brain is scattered. But for me, well, for me I pray this is not a foreshadowing of life to come. The fear escalates when I can’t remember if I’ve taken my medicine since my grandmother’s diagnosis came after she accidentally overdosed on medication she took at the same time everyday for years. 

Fear comes as I find myself behind a couple in a department story, trying hard to not listen to their entire conversation, but being pulled in when she asked her husband, “So, I called you?” And he patiently and sweetly responded with, “Yes, you said you were afraid and were not sure where you were.” Man, will that be my life? This was not an “old” couple either, I would estimate they were maybe in their mid to late fifties. 

Could the abuse that I’ve done to my body, to my brain with extensive drug use and years of depression make this disease come on faster than it did for my grandmother and also my great grandmother? And my great aunt? Though, I believe that her’s may have started earlier than all of them. Does my mental health and struggle with anxiety play a factor into my timeline? 

Have you noticed I haven’t even said the word? 


The horrid disease that steals you from your family, but lets you remain in form. The disease that pretty much hits the reset button on all your memories, years and years of memories gone in just a moment’s time. 

In our family the disease is a source of pain, but also humor. It’s a running joke that I will soon receive calls that my mother has been caught streaking through the neighborhood. It’s a funny image and we laugh, but then things become reality when my parents spend an uncomfortable amount of time locating their truck in the parking lot. I expect my father will remain sharp as tack until his final days just as his mother did. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that his filter will slowly deteriorate and I imagine I will be asking people to forgive his saltiness on a regular basis (wait, don’t I already do that?). 

It is when these stories pile up that I am reminded why I starting writing this blog over seven years ago - to preserve stories for my girls (then just girl). If there was one thing I wish I could do again (more than anything in the world) it would have been to take the time to record in some manner both of my grandmother’s stories. That was the plan, always intended for, but trust me, time moves so much quicker than you could imagine. Then, the stories are gone or distorted. I would say for the first year after my grandmother’s diagnosis she believed my Papa was still alive, but that he has abandoned her for someone else. If that doesn't break a granddaughter’s heart, I don’t know what could. Though I hesitate to say I do not know what life was like in their home before my grandfather committed himself to the Lord and in the same breath I make a public statement that I really don’t want to know. I will preach until the cows come home about the power of your true story, but I’d rather remain a hypocrite when it come to my Papa. I’d rather him remain someone that I look up to, I want to keep the version of him that Meme shared with me, I want to keep him locked in time with his jumpsuits and thick dark framed glasses. 

Urgh, sorry, that was a tangent. I have a reason for this post. 

It is to remind me and you about the power, the purpose for telling stories to our children,  and also preserving those stories.

I recently began reading through a book called the Secrets of a Happy Family and while it is full of great tidbits, I keep coming back to two pages. On these two pages they discuss a study done that concluded, “the more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem.” This study took place in the Summer of 2001 and after September 11th they follow-up with the children just to see what the dramatic events that touched our nation did to them. The found, “the ones who know more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning that could moderate the effects of stress.” Isn’t that just amazing? 

It all has to do with a child’s sense of being a part of a large family. So, what do your children know, can they tell you where their grandparents grew up? Do they know where you met your spouse or about their birth? Do they know about your first pet or why your parents chose to name you Stan instead of Dan? 

Have they gotten the good stories, but have also learned about the struggles? Do you spend time telling the Once Upon a Times of your life around the dinner table? 

And what is the next step? For, me (and the strong likely hood that I will lose these memories) documentation, preserving in type, picture and even video is a must. My goal is to leave my daughters, who I hope will leave their children, with a strong understanding of who I was, what I thought. I also need to (I am scolding myself here) document my daughter’s lives. I need more pictures, more words about what they are like at 14, 4 and almost 3. I need to use my cannon more than my iPhone and I also need to use the video equipment that cost a pretty penny (yep…I just admitted that out loud) to catch them in action. 

While, I have spent the last year sharing my story on this blog to which I will continue in hopes to reach the people who need to hear it, I want to bring back in the more everyday, the possibly mundane sometimes boring parts of our everyday lives, so my littles (when they are not so little) have something to connect with. My legacy to them. 

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