Monday, December 12, 2011

Once upon a time..........

Alma, the third beauty in from the left was an actress, for a short time, in New York. She was my grandfather's sister. I didn't know her or even that she existed. I found out about her from a first cousin that is as young as my children.  I don't know what plays or films she did all I have are some pictures that my cousin shared with me. 
Last night Zeus was talking to his only remaining sibling, his sister, on the phone. I heard them sharing some stories. I listened to a one sided conversation but from what I could hear I had heard those stories before. Their fathers' life was reduced to a few selected stories.
I've been working on the family genealogy and sometimes I can find a story about an ancestor, on the Internet. Something that was passed down in one branch and thankfully someone decided to post it on their genealogy site.

I've discovered a big quirk of mine. It only took me 63 years but I am bothered, BIG TIME, by the loss of personal histories.  Perhaps, that has something to do with coming to a certain age? Everybody has stories, some rather mundane, some wonderful, sad, fascinating, ordinary but it's the stories that connect us. It's knowing, hopefully sharing a story with a person that I think we need, as humans.
The stories help us understand one another and ourselves, our history and so much more.

I came across a story about an ancestor on my grandmother's side of the family. A large strapping Swiss, he and his wife came to the New World. They fought off the Swiss guard that wanted to keep my ancestor in the country by throwing stones at their horses. They came to this country like thousands of others for religious freedom, land and a chance to live the life they wanted. Even when a panther threatened their little stock of animals they worked as a partnership and Christian wrestled the panther and Anna Margaret slit it throat with her carving knife.

Well, that's how the story goes.

I think, in our genetic makeup we resonate to stories. Just like sitting around a campfire, we can be silent with one another, as we stare into the flames  It triggers an ancient memory of the clan sitting around the fire. And, there was a storyteller, there was someone that was the holder of the memories who told them to the clan. Stories that helped the group with their moral direction, stories that entertained while perhaps teaching a lesson to the younger ones. Stories that connected the clan to the clan before them, stories that gave them pride and motivation.

Stories do get lost, forgotten and even dismissed.

I guess, you my reader, are in luck. As long as I can tell some stories I'll keep sharing them with you.

In the new year, a friend and I had a thought that we might go to the local senior center and start collecting some stories from the senior members of our community. It's been done before and perhaps it's time to do it again.  I also think that we can work some sort of small wall hanging, done by the storyteller, into this project. Perhaps, I'll cut out shapes and patterns of material or paper and as a person shares some of their history, I'll have them play with an arrangement of the pieces. Maybe, my friend and I will take these home and work them up into some piece of art. Maybe we'll have a display put up with the art quilts and the stories.  I don't know, just mulling some ideas around in my head.

Think about your stories, think about the people around you that might have some stories that you yourself should capture and put on tape or paper.

:)Bea

4 comments:

  1. You are a great story teller, Bea.
    I am glad I stopped by...the world moves so quickly, doesn't it?
    You are still in my heart♥

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  2. I'm with you on this!!! I have been gathering stories - should have started it long ago, while some of the storytellers were still alive. Am still discovering stuff I had never known. I did start another blog about my g'father, and ancestry dot com has been a great help!! Keep up with it- in order to really know who we are, we need to know from whence we came...!

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  3. So many thoughtful ideas/plans packed into this post. This really hit home for me Bea as I lost my closest cousin October 31 unexpectedly. She was only 63 and our mothers were only two years apart and extremely close so she was like a sister to me growing up. We shared so many childhood memories and I idolized her. I love your idea of visiting a senior's center and gathering stories along with your pockets of questions and photos. YOU are a very special woman and any family would be blessed to have your spirit in their arms.

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  4. I treasure your stories and you remind me of the importance of making connections with family and documenting with evidence that we were here. Blessings. Mary Helen

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