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?