The Path to One’s Own Self

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood don’t have anything to do with travel or adventure, but sitting around listening to family members tell tales from times past. For one, I absolutely loved hearing stories from both of my parents about things they did as children. My favorite story to hear from my mother was how she and one of her three sisters once snuck into a forbidden empty house with disastrous results! My favorite tale from Daddy was that of how he and his younger brother used to get into fistfights over who got to read their baby sister a bedtime story. And of course, there were tales about others too – my mom told about the mischief her father got into at his one-room school; Daddy had stories about his parents and aunts (whom I sadly never knew). My Aunt Vinson loved launching into stories about her upbringing, particularly the story of a certain chocolate cake she was once cheated out of. (;)) Some stories, such as a female ancestor’s confrontation with a Civil War soldier threatening her family, are far older and have been handed down from generation to generation. To this day, I often find myself begging someone to re-tell the same story over and over again! I never get tired of hearing it all. Some stories are positively hilarious, some are touching, some involve the unexplained, and some are rather sad. My great-uncle, for example, was a doctor in Hawaii who vanished under strange circumstances long before I was born, and was never seen again. I’ve always harbored a hope that we might find out what happened to Uncle Butler (as I call him) one day.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to think about what a shame it would be to lose these priceless tales. I thought I might try to write them down, and perhaps craft some book about the history of my family on both sides. My father studies our family tree and has tracked it into many little branches. I’ve begun to find genealogy fascinating myself. It’s interesting how much you learn about yourself just by learning about those who came before.

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2 responses to “The Path to One’s Own Self

  1. What a great post. I, too, never get tired of hearing the stories of the past, seeing family trees, or reading about the places our ancestors are from.

    I’ve harboured a secret dream for some time now — I’d love to get all Ma’s stories about her childhood and relatives together and put them in a book, along with some pictures and the recipes we love. Personally, I think it’d be a best seller! Maybe Dark Forest Press could publish it.

    • I like that idea a lot. It could be Studs Terkel style for the narrative, just uninterrupted story-flow, in her own words. She’s a great storyteller so I think that would work. And I always wanted to be just like Studs Terkel. 🙂 And I like the idea to add some pix – like of the places she grew up, the farm where she ate that purple pepper, family pictures, etc. You take gorgeous photos Cat – you’d be a great one for that. Recipes – GREAT IDEA!!! Maybe this is a project we could undertake together!
      Daddy’s stories could be either a companion book or part of a larger book of history on both sides.
      I really do want to find out what happened to our Uncle Butler. I often think that the truth can’t be that hard to find.
      Mmmmm, Ma’s home cooking. We should make a KG trip sometime soon. Squash thing

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