Why Should You Tell Your Story?
My grandparents died before I was old enough to ask questions about their lives, except for Grandma Schmidt, and I only saw her a few times. She and my grandpa immigrated from Germany as children, met and married in the U.S., and moved to a homestead in the hill-and-coulee country of North Dakota. I know she herded geese as a little girl in Germany. As an adult, she raised turkeys to help support her family on their marginal farm. She learned English well enough to write me letters in German script until she died when I was a teen.
Did she miss her relatives in Germany? How did it feel to leave her first three babies in their graves when she moved from Minnesota to North Dakota? Did she feel bereft when my mother moved out west to Washington, depriving her of the chance to know the five grandchildren who were born here? I have tried to write the bare bones of her story for her descendants, but I don’t have the answers for questions like those. I wish I could have asked her.
One of the greatest gifts you can leave future generations is the knowledge of who you are. They can learn from your hopes, dreams, and struggles as you pass on the lessons you’ve learned.
Until you can put your stories on paper, look for opportunities to tell them to your family. Your life stories will become part of their story. And you’ll gift your loved ones with a sense of life’s ongoing.
You’ll give your children and grandchildren a sense of their own places in history, helping them feel connected with those who’ve gone before, with those whose lives they touch now, and with those who will follow them. What a gift!
|Grandma Johanna Schmidt with her turkeys at the edge of the coulee|