Collecting Stories

I've always been one to write things down, starting with my first grade diary which is littered with snippets that are quite comical to me now, the daily report on what I ate for lunch, a random comment to sum up a week long adventure, "skiing is fun!" along with a few sporadic notations about boys, friends, and my sisters.

Fast forward 20+ years and here I am, still seeking to write everything down.  Except now, I rarely record anything as mundane as my daily lunch, and strive to find pockets to write down about my family.  The little sayings that pepper conversations with my imaginative 2-1/2 year old or the way it feels to cuddle in bed with both my kids at 8:00 on a Tuesday morning.

I've also come to seek and search out these stories with my family, beginning with my late grandfather.  I interviewed him once for one of my first college courses, Introduction to Folklore, a class I wouldn't have picked otherwise, but at at the time at University of Washington lumped courses for freshman into interest groups (referred to as FIGs), and my late decision to attend landed me with English 101, Drama 101, and Introduction to Folklore.

I begrudgingly attended class after class, learning about the history of the folk tale, the evolution of the story, and found myself mildly interested.  Our course culminated with our task of telling some else's story of our own, acting as the narrator to present said story with unbiased commentary, providing context if necessary.  I opted to interview my maternal grandfather, whose journey being left on the steps of the New York foundling hospital as an orphan baby to his career and prosperous career building churches in Los Angeles country was quite an inspirational one, at least what I had gleaned from his articulate anecdotes through the years.

In preparation, I found myself spending hours at a time in my grandparents condo, more time than I would typically spend with my grandparents during my social college years.  Fifteen years later, I find myself thinking back to these conversations, sitting alongside my grandparents as they reclined in their barcaloungers, sipping coffee and nibbling Sees candy while conversing about life, love, struggles, and triumphs.

My grandfather passed in 2013, right after the birth of my daughter, and sadly now these stories exist only in my final draft I printed for my assignment and a series of audio tapes.  I've made a multitude of excuses over the years as to why I haven't transcribed our additional conversations into words to share amongst our family.  I feel like this feeling was heightened significantly after the birth of my children, where I feel an overwhelming urge and desperation to document everything, capturing this one precious life we have and all of those joyful moments before they slip through my fingers, yet again.

So recently, I made the decision to enlist the help of Storyworth, so that my children will have the benefit, privilege, and access to the stories I grew up listening to, from my parents.  I first read about Storyworth via Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things, and was so smitten with the concept, I immediately purchased a book for my dad for Father's Day.  My father is someone who has worked tirelessly his entire life, his work ethic is stealthy and admirable.  Hence, when he does have free time, he tends to reply in concise one word texts or emails; yes. sure. absolutely. definitely.  I've been wanting to record his stories, while he is here, present, and able to share, and evade the wistful, "if only I'd written that down..." I've experienced with my grandfather.  That way, I can read them now, ask questions, inquire more, and connect over commonalities we may not have known to share.

Upon sharing the concept of Storyworth, my dad was surprisingly game, eager even! The format is simple enough, he receives an email once a week with questions I have approved or selected, such as "do you have any particular vivid memories of your grandparents," or "what advice would you give your great-grandchildren.  The questions that are direct, unassuming, and because they are delivered via email, are easy enough for a busy individual to answer without overthinking it.  Upon the culmination of 52 questions, one per week, I will receive all of his written responses in a keepsake book.  I'm pretty excited!

If this sounds interesting to you, go check out Storyworth!


Unknown said...

Very interesting and I can't wait for my stories to fill your blog!

Katie said...

very cool!