Questions to Answer for Future Generations
Both of my parents, my Granddaddy Warren, and grandparents Pierson are all dead. Now that I've reached that age that I thought my grandparents, or for that matter, my parents, were "old," I think a lot more about what I want to convey to my own boys. It's an awesome responsibility to reach the age of "what happened, what should've happened, and what will happen if you repeat past generations errors." Yeah.
For example, I can see a lot of my dad and my Granddaddy Warren in one of my sons(he even looks like my dad at the same age)--and frankly, that is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. On one hand, I might get to witness what my dad would've been like if he'd just made a few better choices or had better opportunities and circumstances like my son has. On the other hand, I'm worried my son will repeat and walk the same paths as my dad, going the hard way.
So, I've been trying to tell my boys stories. We are big storytellers on both sides of my family. On my mom's side are stories of humor, heartbreak, genius and fortitude/perseverence, faith. On my dad's side--well, there might be a bit of blarney in those genes, but it's also filled with mysteries and cover ups, fiction treachery, faith, overcoming obstacles, as well as enduring tragedies. It's the mysteries that intrigue me the most. I want to ask a lot of questions. Sometimes I wonder if it is best to just let those mysteries fade away--but of course, being terminally curious, I want to know. And I think it is time my boys know these stories, too.
I have a platter that belonged to my great grandmother. It belonged to my dad's grandmother. It's discolored and cracked, but you can tell it has blue trim and was probably cream-colored. They gave it to my dad because she used to serve chicken and dumplings on that platter and that was my dad's favorite meal. But then, he was so poor growing up in the Depression, any kind of meal with meat was great. He said one time that he thought at one point during his childhood that he never wanted to see another bean or tater his entire life.
But of course, when he grew up, he loved beans and taters and a skillet of cornbread and I think it was a bit nostalgic for him--especially since he could afford steak when he grew up. Someone looking at that platter might think it was trash, but I honor it in my china cabinet. It tells a story, and really, more of a story of my dad, than anything else.
I have tons of stories to tell my kids about my own growing up. I hope they will pass these stories on their kids. There are some questions you should ask now, if you still have your parents. Here're some examples:
When do you first remember making your faith in God your own? How did it come about?
Tell me about your grandparents. What is your best memory of them? Did you see them a lot or never? What did they do? What did they enjoy?
What are your special memories of your siblings?
Did you pray before you went to sleep? What kind of prayer did you pray?
What did you dream of being/doing when you grew up?
If you could do anything differently, what would it be?
I'm sure you can think of your own questions. And then, don't forget to answer some of these questions yourself to pass along to your own kids or your own family or even to share with readers. These are the kinds of things I'd like to share with you, too.
One of the things I wish I had known to ask my parents would be about their temperament preferences. I can guess on some things because I thought I knew them well, but what if they had hidden some things well? What if they took to their graves things about themselves that I would never know?
And these are the kind of questions that make for a good brainstorm session for developing a fictional story.