|Mom holding me; my older sister, Gretchen, and brother Pete.|
After Mom died the day before Thanksgiving 2013, and while looking through some of her keepsakes, I came to the stark realization that any questions I might still have for Mom could no
longer be answered. I read through her report cards and noticed weeks of absences during her kindergarten year and wondered why. The only person who could answer that would be Aunt Shirley.
The night before Amy and I left for Indiana, she hosted a get-together with some of her friends (so I could put faces and voices with names) in Dayton, Ohio. While chatting about our plans, one friend suggested we look at the StoryCorps app hosted by NPR, a "global platform for listening, connecting, and sharing stories of the human experience." I downloaded the app on my phone, and Amy and I discussed on the drive to Muncie which questions we wanted to ask Aunt Shirley.
The prompts included questions from categories such as Best Questions, Family Heritage, Grandparents, Growing Up and School, Love & Relationships, Military, Parents, Serious Illness, etc. You can make up your own questions, certainly, or set up a list of five or more to get you started. Amy recorded the interview on my phone and then we uploaded it to the StoryCorps site.
Our interview with Aunt Shirley is here. It wound up being 35 minutes long, but we talked a bit more 'off mic' after we'd stopped the recording. So simple. So cool to have this and to be able to share it with our family members.
If you decide to learn more about your heritage, don't be surprised if you're amazed by your ancestors' bravery and wonder how in the world they survived at all. My grandfather had been placed in an orphanage by his mother (who married seven times) and was hopping trains and sleeping in boxcars with hobos when he was 16, looking for work in New Orleans. My grandmother's family came from Holland on a ship in 1905, no small feat either. They lived in 32 houses before finding a place to call their own here in America. And to think I still make my grown sons text me when they reach their destinations!
So, as the holidays approach, I suggest downloading the free app and getting some questions lined up for your family and friends to ask. Learn more about StoryCorps here. Don't wait until it's too late to find out about your family heritage.