Sharing memories and inviting questions
I wish I had done it, but now it's way too late for me. My parents passed away 20 years ago and as I approach their final ages I've been thinking about what I would like to have known about them and what my children and grandchildren might like to know about what made me who I am. Would they like to know what I was like as a child - what interested me or where I lived? Perhaps they'd wonder what my parents and grandparents did for a living, how I did in school or if I was religious? Dozens of other questions come to mind. Of course, they know who I am now. We've been together for their entire lives. And they may not have interest in anything about my past. But there are gaps in their understanding that might prove interesting and/or helpful to them in knowing me.I've been thinking about this because I never asked my parents many of these questions, and I wish I had. I wish I still could. I think a wide frame of reference about a parent can build love, understanding, compassion, patience and gratitude that might mitigate some of the anger, disappointment or frustration that can live and linger between parents and their children. Having a broader picture might explain why it was hard for my father to allow anger in our household. It could help me understand why my mother had difficulty showing affection. I'd like to know more about how my father came to love and collect books and who taught my mother to crochet the many afghans she made for me, my children and her friends. If their lives were difficult, I can understand why they might not want to share. But knowing how they dealt with such challenges could be both meaningful and helpful to me. And so I have come up with a plan to try to find some private moments individually with my adult children and grandchildren who are old enough to perhaps be curious. I'm going to share this article with them and invite them to ask me what they might like to know. I think I'm prepared for few if any questions. Lack of interest is their choice, and I'm OK with that. If there's no interest just now, an option can be to write a memoir for them to have at another time. But I want to have presented the opportunity before it's too late. Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of "Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age."