We’ve all heard the stories about how our dads had to walk five miles to school uphill, both ways…in blizzards. Sure!
Or, how about Uncle Charlie and his four brothers who shared one small bed in an attic where the windows leaked and the walls had no insulation. Remember him lamenting how they had to shake snow off the quilts when they got up in the morning? Oh, brother!
Don’t forget the story of grandpa, who as just a kid had to build a barn and there wasn’t even a lumberyard from which to order the wood. Tell me another one!
Wait a second, as a very young man my “Gramps” DID build a barn.
Is it really necessary to repeat those old family stories?
Studies by psychologist Marshall P. Duke of Emory University shed light on the importance of having a good family narrative. Says Duke,
Even if the stories are embellished a bit for dramatic effect, hearing tales of family experiences is beneficial to the next generation and may help them become stronger adults. These oral histories (told in bits and pieces over the years and not in lecture form) gives young people a solid foundation when it comes to dealing with adversity in their own lives.
My “Gramps”, E. Walter Lingberg, lived on the farm (homesteaded by his dad) nearly his entire life. In 1978, I photographed and recorded an interview with Gramps. He was 90 years old at the time. He told me all about my heritage.
He died in 1980 (38 years ago). Eventually, the farm was sold and the barn was torn down and all traces of the Lingberg family legacy would be gone forever . . . or would it?
On May 28, 1981 our oldest daughter Sarah was born, a year after Gramps passing. Two more daughters were to come, Christine (1984) and Heather (1986). None of them would ever meet Gramps.
On February 27, 2016 we welcomed a new Lingberg to the family, Ava. She’s nearly 129 years younger than Gramps. Someday she’ll watch “Gramps” and hear him, just like I did in 1978. I wonder how his words will shed light on what she’ll be experiencing?
So, if you want a happier family, built on a solid foundation fortified to withstand the inevitable adversities, it might help to create, refine, retell and preserve the stories of your family’s moments. In other words, “Use It or Lose It”. Personally speaking, it could be well worth the effort.
StoryTelling America is a production of For Your Information. If you have a reason for preserving your stories contact us at: