I received word last night that my Great Uncle Vic had passed away. I had not seen him in years but kept up with him through family members. Uncle Vic was the last of my grandparent’s generation. My grandmothers and grandfathers and all of their siblings have now passed on and it hit me today just how sad this is. An entire generation of my family is gone and the children of today will never know what an amazing group of people these ‘old timers’ were. I’m sad with the realization that so many stories of their rich lives will never be heard. I’m sad that this history is lost forever. I’m sad that our children of today will never hear these stories presented with the charm, wit, and charisma that men like my uncle often used to recount their lifetime of memories.
I guess we all know the time will come when one generation fades away and the next takes its place as the reigning leaders and historians of a family. We may know it’s inevitable, but when we are old enough to see the last of a generation leave us, it’s a pretty big jolt of reality. I am now part of the second generation of my family. I’m not sure I’m ready for this. It was the old folks who held the families together when I was a kid. It was the old folks that continued the traditions, and passed down the stories of our heritage. They prepared the large family meals and hosted all of the family get-togethers. It was the old folks who took care of us when we needed taking care of. In two days I’ll be 44 years old and I am now one generation away from being ‘the old folks’ and I’m not sure I’m ready for that responsibility.
The passing of my great uncle has left me longing for my childhood. It’s left me feeling like I’ve missed something really, really important. It’s left me simply missing the people who were so important in shaping who I am today, and who filled my childhood with memories. I’m also filled with regret that I didn’t spend more time listening to these previous generations of relatives. I have written copies of my grandmother’s recipes. I have photos of my great aunts and uncles. I have my grandfather’s wallet. What I don’t have are their memories associated with these ‘things’. I only have MY memories of what these people did and said to me. I wish I knew more.
It is for this reason that I want to foster my blog so that it becomes my own personal living, breathing history book. I want to do this for my nephew, Hunter, and for my step-children, Natalie and Daniel. I want to fill it with stories of my childhood, of coming of age and of finding myself. I want them to know what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling so that they can look back and say, “I remember when that happened to us but I never knew she felt that way about it.” I want to leave future generations with more than just mementos and photographs of my life. I also want to leave them my memories.