Stories Empower And Strengthen:
“What power can poverty have over a home where loving hearts are beating with a consciousness of untold riches of the head and heart?” – Orison Swett Marden
Stories are everywhere. The earliest records of mankind come in the form of story. Whether you draw from the Genesis narrative, Egyptian hieroglyphs or the New Mexico Petroglyphs, it is obvious that mankind has been preserving story for a very long time. There are powerful reasons we tend to our stories: they can empower and strengthen
Yet, telling stories and preserving them are two very different things. Although oral history traditions have great value, the fact is, getting these oral histories recorded in some form increases accuracy, but especially longevity. Is it worth the effort it takes, the time, to rescue our stories from the spoken to the recorded? Here are three reasons to consider:
Ancestry Made Relevant
As you write or otherwise record a story passed down, the very process brings up questions that beg to be answered. In our family, a scrap of paper found in the Rightmeier family bible that simply said:
“Fred and August came to American in the year 1964 at the ages of 14 and 16. Written by M.E. Regetmeier”.
The Rightmeier’s added bits of information to this written fragment in oral story form at many a family Thanksgiving.
A second scrap of paper provided birth and death information for my
great great maternal grandparents.
It was not until my sister, Cindy, did a paper for a high school class did the story get written down. By interviewing our grandfather and his brother’s she was able to assemble the details.
In essence she rescued this story for our family. This was built upon with further research and eventually with my husband and I visiting the birth place of my great great grandfather in Varenholtz, Germany.
Was my sister’s effort worth it? Absolutely. That paper has been the linchpin, not only to further research, but served as a catalyst to several multi-generational family reunions. Those gatherings provided even more insight into that branch of my family tree. She also got a high grade on the paper!
Finding your Roots
Americans are such a blend of peoples. With all of the angst and discontent, the need to know where we came from seems greater than ever. Shows like Finding Your Roots only serve to Empower And Strengthen our curiosity. Tools like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com can be a great help. Look here for a list of other free genealogy sites.
From what we can tell, my great great grandfather and his brother, came to this country illegally. They stowed away on a ship from Germany, jumped ship in New York harbor when discovered by the ship’s steward and disappeared into the masses. I wrote about what we are able to discern regarding his more than a decade journey to becoming a U.S. Citizen and a homesteader on the plains of northern Kansas here.
I sometimes wish I were a novelist, because this story would make a great fictional story based on known facts. I have a good friend who is such a writer. A novel she has in the works, and which I was allowed to read its first version, is based on the life of a great aunt. There are many forms in which one can record stories!
Interview your older relatives. They will appreciate your interest and enjoy sharing what they know. I am sure my grandfather and great uncles were more than glad to exercise the Rightmeier storytelling skills as my sister interviewed them for her paper.
What About Those Skeletons?
Healing comes with honesty. This in itself can empower and strengthen. With openness of most records and DNA tracking, all kinds of family secrets are coming out. Even shows like Finding Your Roots demonstrate there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to human interaction.
Realizing that the person you thought was your genetic mom or dad is not, stirs up all kinds of emotion. This is disorienting to say the least.
Life can do that, but these realities do not really change one’s story. They simply add to it. Capturing even these facts, in a healthy and honest manner make you more of who you are. Since we are indeed a product of both DNA and environment, these kinds of unique ingredients to one’s life makes your story special.
Truth Empowers And Strengthens
No one has a perfect life story. What we do have is an opportunity to choose what to do with what we are handed. Recording, not just the facts, but the process, the road traveled in your story can be, should be empowering. If there are sore spots or even outright wounds, then this is an opportunity for healing.
In the end, not only you will be better for it, but those who read it later can learn from your journey.
Has this inspired you to begin recording your story? If so, with what will you begin? Write your first sentence in the comments! and don’t forget to subscribe!