“It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Who are your ancestors? What were their traditions? Each of us has a (unique family) story to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then how are your children going to know of their parentage?”
This time a couple of years ago, I was preparing for summer travel. As it turned out, I ended up seeing branches of my maternal grandfather’s side of the family from Idaho to Kansas! I didn’t realize it but I was on a mission to rescue some unique family stories
At that time, I re-posted content with stories centering on the maternal grandfather’s branch of the family tree. Most of these came to light during afternoon story sharing times at extended family gatherings.
This year, with all the social distancing, extended in person family gatherings are not on the horizon. All the more reason to find ways to unearth more unique family stories.
Extended Family Near And Far
The trip to Idaho’s primary purpose was to attend a Mission Aviation Fellowship advocate summit, but I have a second cousin who lives there: the grandson of my grandfather Rightmeier’s brother, Leonard.
We first met at a large Rightmeier reunion in 2004 in Jewell, Kansas. He and his sons came to see where it all started. They still talk about fishing in Cousin Roger’s pond, but the family stories that came to light at that event were priceless.
Back in Kansas a week later, a few of my grandfather’s clan had arranged to gather on Father’s Day in Salina, Kansas, including cousin Roger. The last of my grandfather’s generation passed on that year. This was an opportunity for the next generations to connect.
And we did! It was a good time doing what the Rightmeier’s do best: tell stories. We laughed until our sides hurt!
Masters Of Storytelling
This has always been a storytelling bunch, especially the men. Not gossip or tale bearing but funny things that happened. Adventures that could have gone wrong but usually did not. Most included life lessons learned the hard way.
There is always much detail in these unique family story times. Images of landscapes emerge in living color in one’s mind as you listen. Each contains history, geography and a moral lesson. I cherish these.
In fact, were it not for these storytelling sessions throughout my childhood, the Rightmeier family history would lack the depth it has. It is those stories along with some research, from which I draw the bits to write about. These bits may become a book at some point, but for now, I share my “notes” here on THE STONEBRIDGE.
I never expected to be a scribe in the family but there is something about putting these stories into written form, that gives a sense of lives being honored and preserved. This gift came from my Father, who wrote things down. Those have been preserved in a book . My first writing, editing and publishing project.
Unique Family Story Connects Us
If there is anything these past weeks of social distancing have revealed, its that we are meant to be connected. Both, to those among us today, but also to those who reside in history. It is from that place in history which we can move forward. Should there be ugly stuff in that history endeavoring to act as weights, process, forgive and put it into proper perspective.
When one does not know one’s history and deal with it, we tend to flounder. We become stuck. Once processed, any weight conspiring to hold us back falls off becoming stones in a pathway on which to continue our journey. Our unique family stories become wings rather than ballast.
Personally, it is a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ, the One who knows the end from the beginning, and is more aware than I am of what that all means, that gives me courage to process and move on. And not just move on to move on, but do so in joy and hope.
Make Stories Intentional
As you spend time with family this summer, endeavor to engage in telling the story of those who have gone before. Be kind, but real. Relive the fun times. Should you bump into a place of pain, awkwardness or disappointment, let it go and choose love!
What summer adventures are you planning? Be safe! Be Blessed! Let me know where you are off to in the comments below.