Monday, December 15, 2008

Preaching and Hypocrisy

No, this is not a post about the church or religion. It’s a statement about this post. I’m going to get on my soapbox about something I believe in. Then write about why you should not do it. It may be a long post.

Here is the preaching.

The meeting was held at a ladies home. She ran the meeting very effectively and was a good hostess. We wrapped up the meeting and people were starting to leave when our hostess asked if I’d like another cup of coffee. While she was refilling our coffee cups, I walked over to a photo hanging on the wall. It was a family portrait taken many, many years ago. You could tell it was an old photograph – no one was smiling. I guess back then they didn’t ‘smile for the camera’. There were sixteen people in the picture but one man in the back row intrigued me.

When the lady returned with our coffee, I asked her about the picture and the man in the back row. She had found the picture years ago while cleaning out her father’s house. The man in the back row was her great grandfather. I asked what she knew about him. She turned and studied the picture. She then looked at me and relied, “All I know about him is what he looked like.” She smiled but it was one of those smiles that had sadness behind it.

I immediately thought of my father in law, Vic, and others who had some great stories but never wrote them down or recorded them. I tried to get Vic to record some of his stories on a tape recorder but he wouldn’t do it. I can still hear his words, “Nobody is interested in an old man’s stories.” Over the years, Vic had given me a lot of good advice. Some I took, some I didn’t, this is the only statement I never even considered.

I want to encourage you to write your story. Better put - your stories. Everyone has hundreds and hundreds of stories that make up their live. We need to get them written down.

Whether they are kept in a loose-leaf three-ring bind or turned into a book by a published on demand company like cafepress it doesn’t matter just have them PRINTED someway. According to the Discover Channel, we know more about people who lived during Abraham Lincoln’s time than we do about people alive in the last twenty to thirty years ago. The reason is technology. While we all like this blogging thing and using our computers, technology is changing so fast that a lot of information is lost. Back in Lincoln’s day, everything was recorded on paper and a lot of the information about their life and times is still around.

I broke my life into segments. When I leave this old world, I hope to have a number of books done telling my stories. There will be the whole Homespun Headline series which if you think about it are today’s events but tomorrow’s history and stories. There will be other books as well. Growing up Ralph – about my younger years. Raising Ralph – about getting married and raising a family. Alone with Ralph – about the empty nest. Ralph on Retirement – haven’t got there yet, hope to soon. Ralph on Fire – stories about fire fighting. Plus a few more, but you get the idea.

Some of these story are suitable for blog material, some aren't. You don’t have to post everything you write on your blog. Some of my stories will be carefully slipped into the appropriate book.

Okay now the hypocrisy.

Do not do this unless YOU want to. Don’t do it for your spouse, don’t do it for it your kids, and don’t do it for your friends. This has to be something you want to do. And the reason is simple – writing is hard work and it’s a time consuming task. If you do it for any reason besides the fact you want to – it will be become just another chore to scratch off the list. It has to be something you want to do. If it isn’t it won’t matter that much to you or anyone else.

If you think no one is interested in your stories – you might want to rethink that. Most likely there will be people, some whom may not even been born yet, that will be interested in knowing more about your life and times and hearing your stories.

Awhile back Marla put up a post about the dash. You can watch it here. Marla wrote, “I wonder what people will say about me when I am gone.” To modify that a little – I wonder what people will know about me when I am gone?

Don’t end up being a picture on the wall.


Blogger Peter said...

Not much danger of you ending up just a picture on the wall Ralph, I'm sure your stories are being written and remembered.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

I share your desire for a legacy beyond photographs. My well educated and elegant as well as eloquent Grandmother who lived a healthy life to age 99 was willing to sit with me once a week and record the stories of her life. She would make notes and be ready for the interview when I arrived each Saturday. Those tapes are aging and I probably should begin transcribing them. Thanks for the nudge Ralph. I have your first Homespun Headlines book and love it. If you don't know Monica James at Changes In The Wind, you should. She found some old letters in a trunk and wrote the most wonderful story about Buckskin Bessie of the 101 Ranch Wild West show.

8:07 AM  
Blogger bobbie said...

Yes, Ralph, it is really important to do this. Granny Annie is so fortunate to have had a Grandmother willing to record for her.

My youngest always said she felt cheated because most of the relatives her three older siblings had known, had died before she was born. I always felt the same way. I never knew any of my grandparents. I look at old family pictures - not one of them with anything written on the back, and no one living to tell me about them. I'm trying to do better. I won't live to see my youngest grandchild grow up, and I'm trying to do what I can to be sure he knows, not only me, but those who went before me.

Your posts are the greatest.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Live Well, Laugh Often & Love Much said...

See I told you that the blog made you love me more !!! LOL

I agree 100% !GREAT POST!

This will be advice that I will take.

Thanks Ralph !

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sage advice, Ralph. I'm just now learning about my mom's family, who arrived from England in the early 1600's and settled in New England. But as for the more recent family history, especially on my dad's side, much information is missing.

I have started writing my personal history and it did begin as a sort of humorous journal, just for my own amusement... perhaps someone will find it interesting, but with no siblings or children, maybe not.

This was an excellent post ~ certainly food for thought. /Deb

11:32 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Ralph, this is such wonderful advise! I lost my mother 11 years ago this month. She was an only child and everyone on her side of the family is gone now. There are so many questions that I want to ask but can't any longer. I just have to rely on my memories and the past stories from years ago.

I would like to copy your post and email it to my father to see if I could ignite a spark in him to do something too! I've asked him numerous times and he gives me the usual response...who would want to know about me... answer too!

You have inspired me to go ahead and record my memories! I went to the link that you had in the post, but must have overlooked where the site relating to writing family history etc...was. If you can direct me, I'd appreciate it especially if it could help me with getting started and give me some direction! I'm now making it a definite "must do" project especially with the cold winter months ahead!

Any advise or other links for programs would be greatly appreciated!

Hugs to you both!!! Thanks for writing this wonderful and inspiring post!!!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Good go at it Ralph. Great writing and advice.
The snow must have let up so you have time to write.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Well said Ralph and I agree 100%. No one did this in my family. Heck. No one in my family wrote on the back of pictures who was in the picture.
I feel like I am missing out on a lot of interesting family stories. Lisa

7:17 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

My grandma left her life story and I have enjoyed it so much that I was inspired to write about my own life. I did this several years ago and it's time to update.
Thanks for the reminder.
Because I do genealogy, knowing about the lives of my ancestors is important. Some day I figure someone may want to know about me.
They might be sorry too! LOL

7:10 PM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

My father said the exact words of Vic. And that is the reason I have written my "Adventures..." (By the way, there are several more entries in the hard copy than are on my blog.)

I have encouraged as many people as I can with some of the same words as you. May I say that we're on the same team? Thanks.

Here's something else: photos are priceless, too. Write something on the back of every one you take. Names, dates, pets, kind of car, the town...whatever.

This is a great and worthy post, Ralph. Straight from the heart. I hope you have made some converts with it.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

You are so right! Preach away, and I will say AMEN!
I would love to have videos and journals from my grandparents. I have pictures and lots of memories, but I hate that fact that there's so much that I've forgotten. So many of Grandpa's old stories about his schooldays and other great stories he told me. And my Gramillo had wonderful stories about her life and fictional tales that she made up for me and my brother.
Keith's dad kept journals with tons of writing in them.
Those are treasures!!
I like the title Ralph on Fire.
Very funny.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

I wholeheartedly agree Ralph...My husband and I took a trip years ago to visit his grandfather. We were doing some family history work at the time and we wanted to record some of his stories....TF taped him telling some of his stories, about his travels on the Orient Express, and etc.Years later, after he died, TF made a copy of that tape and sent it to Granny. She absolutely adored that tape. She would listen to it often and commented that it was the best gift anyone had ever given to her...

We all need to know our family history, it gives us a sense of belonging. Thanks for the post.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Write on, Ralph! Write on. You didn't quite get me motivated but my blog is more of a journal than other things.
I check books from the library too but my pen is dry. So I blog.
I did start a memoirs and there are chapters that won't make a blog. It is at 'All the girls ~~~"

10:16 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

I had to come back an post this on my "I Love Your Blog" tab. It would be awful note to share it with everyone we can.

6:46 AM  
Blogger sheoflittlebrain said...

For a long time, I've thought about writing a sort of family history/recipe book for my Grandchildren.
You've given em the inspiration to get started! Thank you:)

2:54 PM  
Blogger Shady Gardener said...

Great post. My dad has been such a good "documentarian" of photos and many stories. I urge him to continue, as he has so Many good stories! My fear is not that I might end up a photo on a wall without a story... but that my photo might end up in an auction where I might not even have an identity!

9:59 PM  
Blogger JeanMac said...

Wish I had started years ago:)Great idea.

3:48 AM  
Blogger Aravis said...

We've done this with my maternal grandparents, writing down some of their stories and also my aunts' and uncles' memories.

My recently deceased grandmother, on the other hand, was like Vic. She told such wonderful stories about her life, but never thought they were worth recording. If there's one good thing about her Alzheimer's is that she would tell these stories over and over, not realizing that she had just told them. She may not have recorded them, but we know them and can write them ourselves now. I would hate for them to be lost!

1:39 PM  
Blogger nora said...

Great ideas - my Grandma Nora kept a little two line journal of her day. We were going to read one out loud on the way to a family party today. Now I think we should just have Dad tell stories.
Thanks for the nudge.

8:16 AM  
Blogger EV said...

I enjoy perusing old graveyard. My mind has wandered to these same thoughts while reading the headstones. So many stories, family adventures, heartbreaks and miracles. The circle of life ....

7:58 PM  

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