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I never met my great-grandparents, but I know them. They’re just as real to me as my grandparents, who’ve since gone on into the great beyond. One of our greatest fears–forgetting those we hold dear to our hearts. Even more, terrifying is the possibility of being forgotten. That’s why Alzheimer’s grips us with such crippling fear. Who are we, but a compilation of our memories? What are we if not for our memories? We grapple with the reality of memory slipping away from our hold. How can we keep the memories of our loved ones from slipping away?

The Value of Passing Memories

Yet, I propose that there’s no need to fear if we intentionally develop a plan and establish family values that promote keeping loved ones alive through memories. We all need to celebrate and reinforce those memories for the younger generations that may not have known a loved one. Trust me. My mom, aunts, and grandmother talked about my great-grandparents so naturally and often that I still speak of my great-parents as though I had my own experiences with them, even though both of them had passed away before my birth. There’s a priceless value in passing memories of loved ones gone to your family.

The Power of Storytelling

My grandmother talked so comfortably about her parents that I lost sight that they no longer inhabited the earth realm. It felt as though they just lived in another state. Well, I guess they did live in another state–of consciousness. I recognized that my Great-Granddaddy Willie was a man ahead of his time. He didn’t succumb to societal limitations regarding gender equality. My grandmother tells of the time her daddy told her, with pain in his eyes, that he couldn’t send her to college because he didn’t have the funds to send her and her sister. This news really disappointed my grandmother, but she had to accept it. All these years later, when I heard this story, I beamed with pride. Just the thought of it–my Great-Granddaddy Willie actually considered letting girls attend college. When most young ladies groomed for marriage and motherhood, my grandmother had other options to consider. I so enjoyed hearing my grandmother share her stories. Knowing that my great-grandfather desired to allow my grandmother to attend college, I also appreciate that he valued his daughter. In an era when educating women was considered a waste of money, Great-Granddaddy Willie didn’t think it a waste to redirect funds towards his daughters’ higher learning. He did, however, build them houses. My grandmother conducted herself with dignity. I never heard her resign herself to the views of others. She embedded this same confidence into my mom and aunts. They, too, possess such sure-footed confidence. Had it not been for the passing down and sharing of family stories that inspire, I wouldn’t walk with the self-confidence I value. In Viola Davis’ voice from The Help, my mom made me believe, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” My mom did for me what her mom did for her what her dad did for her, and I’m sure his parents did for him. The story continues. I share stories with my grandchildren about my grandparents and great-grandparents, hoping that our generations live on and remember the generations that came before them through our memories and storytelling.

If you want help capturing your family’s story and placing it in print, contact Your Last Story at 800-887-5064 or visit us at yourlaststory.com.

Live Long and Prosper

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