Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Should We Ask Our Elders?

     On my last post I confidently stated that we should make a list of questions to ask our parents and grand parents. After I published the post I thought, " What would I write down?" I had to stop and think about it. Maybe it's not so easy to make up a list of questions. We have the nagging thought in the back of our head that we would like to know more of our parents and grandparents. But what do we really want to know?

   So the first thing I considered was the age of the son or daughter and parents and grandparents. Questions kids would ask would be different than what adults would ask.  Answers would be different depending on the ages. These days some grandchildren are not that familiar with grandparents.

   I would make up a list of general areas I would interest me. Then I would  say tell me something about the games you played as a kid. This can be a conversation where one answer leads to another question.  ...games at home, school or with friends.

    School would be a big one. My Dad lived less than half a mile from the country school he went to. For some time he lit the fire so the school would be somewhat warm when the other kids got there. I heard this story many times. I didn't hear about his teachers or what they learned. He spent one year in high school where he boarded in town. He wasted his time in the pool room. He did not return to high school. He had regrets about wasting this opportunity.

    He talked about the food they ate and how good it was. What was the food?

   My Dad road freight trains. What was it like?

   I knew small pieces of Mom and Dad's life but not much detail. Our best hope is to fill in some of the detail.

   I have children in their 40's and grandchildren in their teens. What would I want them to know? Remember, I'm going to have to prompt them to ask questions. Funny situations have come up. My Mom kept all my report cards . My daughter was looking at the report cards and said,"Dad, you had poor marks!" I think we have to be ready to tell some things we are not proud of. 

   Other areas I would pencil in for ideas would be: happy times, sad times, work as a child, travel, disappointments, favorite people in their lives, challenges, friends, siblings, grand parents. I like to hear about daily life. My kids should hear about how I milked cows or road horses. They should hear about harvest and cutting hay. They should know about my shenanigans. I was a rascal. 

   This is by no means a complete list. It should grow.

   What questions would you put in your list?

44 comments:

  1. Keith, in retroflection, I wish I had paid more attention to my parents talking about their ancestors. I remember all the stories about my father growing up, but didn't pay attention to what he said about his ancestors and I kick my butt for that.

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    1. It's great to see you here in comment land. Those stories are told and there's much more to them. we only hear the broad outlines.

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  2. Your list is really good, Red. I'd like to know what games my parents played when they were young, and who they admired and why. And maybe their strongest memory of growing up. Good post! :-)

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    1. These suggestions remind more of things I would like to know.

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  3. too cute about the poor marks and rascally behavior. :)

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    1. I can't ignore these. They're real.

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  4. You have given this a lot of thought and have some really good ideas. I wish I had asked my parents some of these questions.

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    1. Questions always bring about more ideas.

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  5. What is one memory of your Grandmother or Grandfather? Who was your best friend in school ? What kind of pets did you have? What was your favorite subject and why? Fav teacher? Memorable Holiday? A day in the life when you were in grade school, high school, college...
    I suppose I better not write a whole book:)

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    1. The fav teacher alone could widen the territory to much more info on the life.

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  6. Your list is a terrific beginning Red. I need to stop by the store and buy a journal and just begin writing. Take some time each day to write a few thoughts. I was thinking it would be easy to type it but writing it in one's own handwriting but mean so much more. I hope you don't mind but I've already written down your list as a start. I've said before Red that you make us think. This post has got me to thinking a lot! I'd add school experiences, church activity, and memorable birthdays or holidays to the list.

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    1. The list could be endless. I like your idea of a journal. That makes things a little more permanent.

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  7. Ironically my niece has just asked her Dad and I if we knew how our parents met. Much to my amazement neither of us did.

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    1. I don't think many kids know how their parents met. I have my story on the blog!!!

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  8. And that's me up to date with your posts after my latest absence from Blogland whilst in Australia.

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    1. I really admire those people who are away and then come back and do comments on the blogs they read. Thanks.

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  9. Oh Red they should surely know about all your shenanigans:) I think you have a great start to questions oh I would have loved to talk to your Grandfather. Hug B

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    1. You know those country kids! There's enough space to do anything in the wide open boonies.

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  10. My parents told me a lot of things about their youth and their lives with their families. As a child we sometimes had enough of all those stories from the past we had heard so many times... I have a pretty good image of their lives now.

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    1. I think that the war would have had a profound influence on your parents. I have Dutch friends her who were born long after the war and yet they know many stories about the war.

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  11. I love finding out about all the day to day things that my parents and grandparents did. When my mother shares stories from her early years, I imagine her as a child, a teenager, a young adult...and it is very heartwarming.

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    1. The daily things help us to get a pretty good picture of their life.

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  12. My Dad was very popular with the ladies - he loved to sing and dance and play guitar. He could not afford a guitar, so he built his own. I have always seen him in photos with cousins and would ask about them as I know most of the stories. I never really asked about the guitar, how long it took to build and how he knew how to do that - its still in the family - my Dad lived on an island - a family of boat builders and fishermen, so I assumed he learned from the olde folks.. Now you got me thinking Red - other questions are forming in my mind. h-m-m-m

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    1. Self taught people were remarkable in what they could achieve.

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  13. I listened well, it was important to me.I am head of our family and spin many tales

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    1. Spin the tails and write some down so that there is some permanence.

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  14. I've stopped asking my mother questions because she answers them differently each time.

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    1. I think that many of the elderly have some difficulty with accuracy.

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  15. Children should not be interested in what went before.
    You should leave a documentary of your life and let others use it as they think fit.

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    1. A documentary is a good idea. kids will be curious and we can't take that away from them. We do have control as we can relate what we want.

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  16. This is an interesting topic, and I guess I haven't given it a lot of thought. My grandparents all grew up on midwestern farms - I'd be very interested in knowing what their daily life was like as a child. I'm also a little curious about their parents - how did they wind up farming in Iowa? What was your school like? What were their hopes and dreams when they were young? What were the hopes and dreams of their close friends?

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    1. The mid western farm of 50 -75 years ago was something that was very different from today.

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  17. Very good post Red. Even when you have not been able to ask any questions, a fair bit can be gathered from the time they were living in. A young man would have had no problem finding a job in the roaring 20s but it is unlikely he would have found one in 1930. Looking at historical events, finding what age your ancestor was during this event, does not give you personal details but it tells you a lot about the circumstances he/she was living in and the challenges most people (and most likely he/she) had to face at the time.

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    1. Research is what you're talking about. We can get a tremendous amount from good hard work.

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  18. I like hearing about life before technology. And farming with horses. This fascinates my mind. Sometimes I think I was born 100 years too late. Lol.
    Cheri

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    1. My Dad felt that he was too late. He wanted to homestead which was about 1905. Instead he was born in 1912.

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  19. Interesting thoughts, reminds me that I have a treasure of information from my parents and grandparents and it's my responsibility to pass it on. My first visit to your blog and I enjoyed it.

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    1. You make a good point that we have a responsibility to pass stories on.

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  20. I have a ton of photos I just do not know who they are!

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    1. Probably many people like you. If i get photos from my Aunt I will be in the same situation.

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  21. Life Review Questions


    Tell me about your childhood.
    What was school like?
    What about your teenage years?
    Did you like school?
    What did you do for fun in your youth?
    What is your favourite food?
    Tell me about your family members.
    What about your best friends?
    Tell me about overcoming an obstacle in your life.
    What is your deepest regret or disappointment in your life?
    What do you think are the most important things about life?
    What are your life’s achievements?
    What do you find are the most satisfying things in life?
    Who have you admired and why?
    Describe the kind of person you have been.
    What were the happiest moments in your life?
    What messages would you like to leave your family?
    What mystifies you about life today?

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    1. I knew I could depend on you for a generous contribution.

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  22. I used to ask my Mother questions just to get her to talking about her childhood. My Mother died in 2007. She was 90. I did write down a lot of the stories she told me. There is still so much I wish I had asked her. Now it is too late. Good post! As usual!

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  23. Many people regret not listening or not asking more.

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