Dad never talked much about his childhood and, as children, we never asked him about it. We learned a little through Mom, but the best way was through an audio recording.
Our cousin’s daughter asked her grandfather to record about his early years. By asking direct questions, he gave his responses in his own words and his own expressions. Although I never got to hear the recording, I did get a copy of a transcription of it. While reading the words, I could picture my uncle and almost hear his voice and laughter at certain points in his story.
It was through this recording that we learned about what life was like for our own Dad while growing up. It was a story of a happy family growing up on a farm, until his Mom died when Dad was only 11. His father tried to keep the farm going and keep the family together, but with several younger children, the family had to split up with one family taking the baby, another family taking other children and Dad and his brother staying to help their Dad on the farm.
Dad had to quit school after Grade 8 and then his father passed away when Dad was 17. Although he inherited the farm, it was hard times for everyone and Dad ended up homeless in the city.
After learning this story, I could understand more of why Dad said and did certain things and where his core values came from.
If you have a parent or grandparent, aunts or uncles, who are not ones to write about themselves, make good use of a microphone and recording device to capture their stories while you can. And if you’re not comfortable with writing, why not make use of good technology to share your own story with your family.
See our resources, for more information.