November 11, 2014
Of my four grandparents, I knew just one – Meta Bendt Foth, AKA Granny, my dad’s mother. The other three died long before I was born, and my knowledge of them is miniscule.
For instance, all I know about Granny’s husband – pictured above with her at the turn of the last century – is that he fought for Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German emperor, and immigrated to the U.S. sometime in the 1920s. That’s about it; I don't even know when he died, or where, or of what. I know absolutely nothing about his parents, or hers – not even their names. And the time for asking has long since passed.
I don't suppose it makes much difference in the greater scheme of things. All that really matters long-term is where we each spend eternity, and that has nothing to do with how much our descendants know about our lives.
But perhaps these thoughts suggest a great way for today’s young people to spend some quality time with those who are still with us, particularly their parents and grandparents.
Here’s the idea: Next time you have a chance, grab a pen and notepad (or laptop or whatever else people use to take notes these days) and interview each one. Ask for their vital statistics, of course, from date and place of birth to their hopes for eternity. Then ask them about the people, places and events that shaped their lives – for example:
- Who were their parents and siblings, and what happened to each of them?
- Where were they during World War II, or the Korean or Vietnam War?
- When and how did they meet their spouses?
- How about their faith, and their church lives?
- Who influenced them most, personally and perhaps professionally?
- Who were their best friends?
- How did they like to spend their free time at various ages?
- What apartments and houses did they call home over the years?
And so on and so forth. Just imagine the stories you’ll hear!
Then consider documenting each conversation by writing up your notes and displaying the finished text in a scrapbook, complete with appropriate graphics – family snapshots, maps, even historical photos found online. What a wonderful gift such a scrapbook would be for the special people in your lives today, and for you, years down the road, when you get to thinking about the good old days. Which you almost assuredly will, sooner or later.
By Kitty Foth-Regner
Photos used by permission from Everlastingplace.com