Many generations share stories with their descendants and like the telephone game played in primary school the story changes or evolves. A small project I started to piece together a few years ago was the Old Untold series starting with my grandma Rex and after hearing the stories that my husband's grandfather Gjeto shared with my husband's generation sparked this series to life again. Most likely you or your parent's have had a family member pass away and a question or comment is made in the years that follow "I wish I would have asked that when...., oh well I guess we will never know." Sadly this comment is repeated with out much thought but what if you sat down with the loved ones you have left and fill in the gaps now.
My beloved maternal Grandma Rexena is my last living grandparent. She is 85 and fiercely independent, strong spirited, happy, fun loving, adventurous, best dressed, beautiful soul, honest and the air that fills my lungs. I hold her legend and spirit tightly because she is worthy but also because she is the last thread to my old untold. We have weekly conversations about her week, she is a busy lady with card parties, luncheons, ladies breakfast groups, TOPS, Red Hats, and more, and my week's activities on the homestead but we also discuss old untold stories.
In one of my latest conversations we discussed the passing of her father. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in May and passed in October of 1974. When he was initially told about his diagnosis and prognosis he shed tears and was nearly sobbing when he whispered, "I am scared I gave this to my buddies I went hunting with last weekend." He had no idea that this disease was not contagious and couldn't be spread by sleeping in close proximity to others, unlike diseases that plagued his generation tuberculosis (TB), smallpox, flu and cholera. The doctor and my grandmother explained the disease in more detail and he calmed down but was still aware of the seriousness of his prognosis. My great grandfather Rex Bridger was the father of four beautiful daughters, one charming son, husband to the magnificent Twyla, coal miner until the Elmira mines closed, roofer for Fry Roofing in Kansas City, hunter and overall hard worker to provide a life for his family. His youngest daughter, MarBeth, was born with down syndrome, she still lived at home due to his hard work and Twyla, she wouldn't have it any other way, which was rare in this time period, most were institutionalized at an adolescent age. My great grandmother Twyla was the family genealogist and historian keeping a record of past family members, burial sites and dates, she also was an artist, painter, quilter and brilliant dedicated mother. She met Rex while attending a secretary school and when introduced this hard working man to her father Earl he disapproved and never spoke to Rex for as long as my grandma can remember. When they would visit Twyla's parents, Rex never came inside and only Twyla's mom came out to speak to to her father. My grandma never really understood why her grandpa Earl disliked her father Rex but just assumed it was because of his blue collar status and then she chuckled "He was always a cranky old man." Our conversations about the past always make my grandma Rexena nostalgic, usually leave her laughing and even make her curious about some details she can't recall or questions she never thought to ask.
I challenge you, take the time to ask, listen and document the stories of your loved ones, embrace the knowledge and hold it for the next generation.