Stories: Past, Present, and Future

A week ago when I posted, my father was alive. He was a regular reader of my blog, and often called or emailed me when I posted about family issues. He didn’t call me to comment on last Monday’s post about my grandparents’ house. But he did email me on Monday about one of his financial advisors filling out a form incorrectly, and he gave me a management lesson: “PLAN, IMPLEMENT and FOLLOW UP” he wrote.

That night he died.

This past week has been such a mix of analytical and emotional activities, of planning and of mourning. And my siblings and I have barely started. Funeral. Legal. Financial. House. It’s hard to cope with death. The details are overwhelming.

The planning helps to distract from the emotions, then suddenly one of us is in tears.

And yet there have been some good times, too. Getting to know my nieces better. A Seahawks playoff game with my siblings and their families. An afternoon with my daughter and her dog.

Telling stories.

Always there are stories.

My sister told me that my dad never liked sauerkraut, not after he ate a whole jar of his grandmother’s homemade stuff when he was a kid and got terribly sick. I’d never heard that story before. But then, I never made him German food like my sister did.

I told my sister the story of my dad being angry about his parents’ moving from Pasadena, California, to Klamath Falls, Oregon, when he was about thirteen. He’d had a wonderful childhood in idyllic Southern California, free to wander the entire Los Angeles area by bus. In Oregon, he was an urban transplant in a lumberjack town. Only his studious girlfriend (later my mother) and his Latin teacher saved him from becoming a hoodlum, he told me once.

But now, the stories we know are what we know. There is no one left in the generation before us to tell us more stories.

We will have to remember what we’ve been told and pass the tales along. And go make our own stories to pass on as well.

What stories do you want your descendants to know about you? Write them down. You never know when it will be too late.

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  1. Sharing stories of those who have passed help to keep them close in our hearts. I’m happy your family is sharing stories of your father, Theresa. I like your suggestion of writing down some stories. Take care of yourself.

  2. My sister gifted me with a journal designed for just that: writing ones stories to prompts provided in the booklet. When completed, I will gift my daughter, Erin, with it. Example: “What is the biggest problem you remember having in high school?” “Tell about someone who had a big influence on your life.” “What allowance did you get when you were a youth? Did you have to do anything to earn it?”

    Erin will receive the completed journal when I can get through the 365 pages contained therein.

  3. I’m so sorry about your father. And to lose him so suddenly. I am glad you are finding some positive out of this experience, but it’s got to be really tough.

  4. Theresa, what a beautiful tribute to your father. I lost my Daddy three weeks ago, too. Stories are what carry us through the hard times!

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