Last week my husband's grandmother visited us. She's always had a wonderful memory and is always good for a story. Driving in the car one afternoon, she told Amanda about how her grandparents were from Mississippi and decided to go to California in the late 1800's--in a covered wagon! She said that her grandmother told her about all the wild animals they saw on the way. They didn't like it in California. Everything was too expensive. (Well, some things haven't changed). She said that on the way back they took a boat--around South America--and it took about six months. Her grandmother shared those stories, not knowing how much things would have changed by the time her granddaughter became a grandmother.
Most families and friends have stories that they tell and retell. Our family histories begin to take on a type of folk lore: The time that mom left someone behind after stopping for gas, the really bad meal that a teenager experimenting in the kitchen created, the camping trip where it rained for five days straight. Old friends can't resist recalling the time that the men on the church softball team fought with the umpire, or the pranks that were committed within the halls of the college residence hall, or the year that they let their kids get burned bright red on the first day of a week long beach trip.
This weekend we were blessed to be able to get away for a kid-free weekend with some friends. We enjoyed sharing meals, quiet moments on the porch reading and chatting, some game playing, and a standing Spades challenge. We learned more about each other's family histories (and folk lore), some funny stories and some sad memories. But most importantly, we began to collect the stories that we can share with our children and with each other: watching and listening to the loons, swimming in the lake in the rain, warming by the fire in July, canoeing, cooking and eating together, winning and losing games, and being comfortable enough to do absolutely nothing.
I love sharing history--both the history that I am living now, and the perspectives that those who have lived much longer than I have can bring to life for me. If they don't share, or I don't listen, it fades away. I want to be able to claim the good times and the bad, to learn from them, and most importantly remember how wonderful life really is.