Everyday on our way to school, we drive past the cemetery on City Park Ave. And for some strange reason, I always think of my grandmother, Patricia Ann Casey.
She’s as Irish as the whiskey she drinks.
And I adore her.
The older I get, the more we talk. And I have a gained a better understanding of what wisdom is…or at least how it comes to be:
Wisdom is the culmination of time and experience.
I am grateful for my daily reminder, even though it comes with a brief, dull jab to my heart, as I know that time is not on our side.
Other than photographs and a few diaries, all I have are memories. And I have 3 kids under the age of 6, so you know what that means.
The article is a roadmap to gaining a deeper understanding of relatives and friends and exploring “the deeper stuff–the childhood memories, the hopes and fears, the truest sense of self”.
Jackson outlines dozens of questions to help you get started, many of which may or may not be obvious:
~ Childhood ~
What was your childhood like?
What were the happiest times of your childhood?
What were your biggest disappointments?
~ Work ~
What was your first job and how did you get it?
Is there anything you think is absolutely crucial to success at work?
Was there one person–a mentor, maybe–who had a big impact on your working life?
What was the best job you ever had? The worst?
~ Love & Family ~
Over the years, what was the most rewarding thing about raising kids?
Do you have any advice about being a good parent?
What would you say love is? Have your ideas about it changed over time?
Who in the family is most like you?
~ You & Me ~
Is there anything you’ve never been able to ask me or say to me?
In what ways do you think we’re similar? Different?
What were your favorite times with me?
~ You as You ~
Who knows you better than anyone?
What is the key to a great friendship?
Who makes you laugh the hardest?
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The scariest? Dumbest?
“While such topics can seem scary (or, face it, best avoided), this season is a perfect time to start the conversation, whether at a family dinner, in a letter, or by email.”
What better gift to give your grandparents (and yourself, your children, your family) than to honor them by simply taking the time to listen, read or write down their words and memories, dreams, ideas, regrets, loves, passions, hopes.
An unexpected gift is the invitation for them to think about their own life – moments in time they haven’t thought of in years because nobody asked.
How fun for the kids to make up their own questions and interview their grandparents, learn things they never would have known, be inspired and see their grandparents in a new light – as people with great history, great stories, great advice.
Some other ideas:
- Celebrate their memory by writing down a favorite memory of your own (or draw a picture of a favorite memory) and share it at dinner. Make copies and create little books for everyone to keep. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
- Create a little photo album for your children of pictures they’ve never seen before and tell them stories of when you were little.
- Make an old family recipe together – food and smell are powerful memory-makers.
How ironic that Grandparents Day follows September 11th, a day that reminds us how precious life is and how fleeting it can be.
Capture the wisdom, the lessons, the life of those you love.
Is there a lesson or piece of wisdom that you learned from a parent or grandparent that you hope to pass on to your children? Tell us about it here.
- Eric Jackson’s article Getting to Know You
- Get to Know Your Family and Friends Better Personal History Worksheet