I cannot stress the importance of speaking to your living relatives NOW before it’s too late. In my genealogy course I taught, that was practically my first tip to my students and right now, I’m truly needing to practice what I preach. My dad suffered a stroke last week and while he is expected to fully recover, for a while he was missing time, could not remember his only great-granddaughter, nor her name. He thought for a bit that he was still working at the place he worked at when I was a kid… so he was missing about 30 years there for a few days. It’s coming back to him and even today I quizzed him on a few relatives I had planned on doing an interview with him in October when I’m there for my daughter’s wedding but now, it’s even more pressing for me to make sure I ask absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted to know before it’s too late.
My dad has lived an amazing life and has some incredibly crazy stories. He was shot four times in Vietnam, he was impaled by a bull, was hit by a car and still, the man bounced back every single time. His stamina and fortitude is insane. Anytime I had an issue and I felt overwhelmed, he’d tell me (in his best military voice) to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get on with it. He’s just always been a strong, if not somewhat stubborn, character and I love that about him. So to know that these stories about his life and that of his three brothers and parents could potentially be lost forever, is just urgently pushing me to get to Ohio faster to document them for my children and grandchildren. I feel it like a boulder on my shoulder weighing me down. I want them to know him like I know him and I have to capture that like… now.
So please, before you have a similar health crisis in YOUR family, talk to your living relatives NOW before those memories are gone and lost to time. Write them, record them, ask a million questions and make sure you preserve it all for future generations.