I wish I knew more about my grandparents. I have questions for them that will not be answered in this lifetime. It has taken me too long to realize what I have lost by not knowing their stories. Will my grandchildren also find out too late?
My Dad's Father died of Black Lung before I was born. My Mother's Dad also died before I was born. His death was by his own hand. I had step-grandfathers on my mother's side. I am grateful that they left me memorable stories. Both grandmothers lived long lives, but only one was present to us. Both, however, left their tales for me to enjoy. One was a writer, and through her penned works, I have come to know her in a small way. The other was very active in my life. I heard, first hand, about her exciting adventures and trials. Something was still missing.
My definition of personal stories goes beyond what we have done or seen. The real legend reveals the impact those experiences have on our lives. Emotions felt, lessons learned, and life changes that occurred are the real gems within a life story.
So, how do we share those treasures with our Grands? First, listen for questions. Questions are the open door. I like questions because they don't have to be asked only by the youth. They are great door openers for seniors as well. Once a question has been asked, the short answer is best. Leave room for more questions. Invite the child into your story, don't drag them. (I've learned from experience.) There may be things left unsaid, but what you say will be remembered if you don't push.
We have a wealth of tales to tell. We can recount bible stories that help us or have impacted us. Anecdotes from our own lives are always a crowd pleaser when told with a bit of humor directed at ourselves. Books and articles can become a source of interesting ideas shared. The list goes on and on, from nature stories to the famous or not so well known people that touch our lives. We can always have something worthwhile to say.
Connect to the children and even older grandchildren with feelings. Telling them how we feel and asking them about their emotions tells them that they are important. There is a caution to this, however. We should be careful not to dismiss their feelings. We can accept that they feel a certain way right now, but we must also give them time and space to change.
Our lives interchange. It is a wonderful blessing to a child to tell them how they have been special in our lives. A "Do you remember when we did..." story will always liven up an afternoon.
Finally, look for ways to bring God into the story. Use God's perspective, His attributes, His love for us, or maybe just that He is watching and listening now to bring His presence into the conversation. Do you know He is listening and watching us now?
Father God, The Word and Teller of Your story within our stories, You are so very good! You are our hope when times are tough and our delight when we are filled with joy. We seek Your forgiveness for being so quick to pass by opportunities to share You with those we love so very much, our Grandchildren, preferring to give them things instead of ourselves. Thank You for giving us time with them. Thank You for making the door of questions swing both ways! Thank You for the stories You have given us in Your word, our lives and all around us. You are so generously good to us! Teach us to be the best we can be for all future generations!