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Destiny Molatore | moms@nrtoday.com

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June 30, 2014
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A tip for sharing your family history | Moms

My family recently received a timeless gift.

For Mother’s Day, we gave my mother-in-law, “A Grandparent’s Legacy: Your story in your own words.” My sister had given my mom a similar book.

It is a grandparent’s journal with questions that prompt them to share their life story with future generations.

If you have ever tried ancestory.com, watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” or have ever simply wondered about your family’s history, this book might be good for you.

As a young child, I remember snuggling up next to my grandmother on her floral patterned couch in front of the lace trimmed window and asking her about the past.

Bits of her stories live on in my memory, but they are clouded by childish interpretations and forgotten people and places.

I vaguely remember her saying that she would go with her mother to contribute metal items for the war effort (for some reason I picture her pushing a baby carriage), that she had two marriage proposals and accepted my grandfather after only knowing him two weeks, and that she had planned to become an airline stewardess.

Relatives, if you are reading this, maybe you can clarify these stories for me. This could easily become a bad game of Telephone.

So when I heard about the grandparent’s memory book, I was excited for my mom and my mother-in-law to complete one.

The book is formatted so that you can fill out one chapter per month for one year, but my mother-in-law did it all at once—12 hours straight one day, plus several other evenings.

When we received the finished book, my husband and I stared at the first page with the names and birthdates and birthplaces of the last three generations. That alone told a tremendous story.

Reading the book, I learned more about the daily life and history of my husband’s family, helping me understand and appreciate them even more.

Questions in the book include:

What was your favorite pastime as a child?

Where did your father go to work every day and what did he do?

Describe your grandparents’ houses. Did you visit them often? Why or why not?

What similarities with your mother do you now see in yourself or in your children?

When did you first know you wanted to get married? Tell me about the proposal.

What do you consider to be some of life’s most difficult challenges?

There are pages to insert pictures.

The book has prompted many conversations and recollections in our family.

My mother-in-law came across some old pictures while making the book and decided to make extra prints to share with the family.

My husband and I received the pictures and decided to make a photo gallery in our house. I had the photos matted so that I could include captions to help us remember the family stories.

Seeing pictures of my husband’s relatives has helped me piece together and remember the stories I have heard about them.

One photo shows a picture of my husband’s great-grandma. She and her husband were from Austria.

She was raised by nuns, served as a nurse in World War I, and then moved to Oregon for an arranged marriage with a man she had never met.

I wish we knew all of her stories, but she only spoke German.

Everyone has a story to tell. Maybe these days our stories will be shared by our electronic footprint, our social media sites and blogs—scary thought.

Whether or not that is the case, there is something special about having a handwritten, first-hand account to pass down to future generations.

I hope you find a way to share your family’s story with future generations.

You never know what you may discover in the process.

I hope you find a way to share your family’s story with future generations.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 7, 2014 07:03AM Published Jul 7, 2014 07:04AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.