As older relatives, especially parents, pass on, sometimes we have regrets about questions—trivial to important—we never asked. Here are some examples:
What was your favorite childhood game?
What else did you do for entertainment?
What do you remember about your first—
In what situation did you meet and court Daddy/Granddaddy or Mother/Grandmother?
How did your ethnic origins influence your childhood?
What do you remember about the births of your siblings?
What sibling were you closest to when you were growing up?
Who were your favorite extended family relatives and why?
What is your favorite invention in your adult life?
What was church like when you were little?
What early tragedies happened in your family?
What was (name of relative) like when you were a child?
What was your school like?
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Where did you live when you were first married and what was it like?
What did you pay for your first house and what was it like?
How did you choose your career?
I could go on and on with this list, but you get the idea. So much of our history is lost because we didn’t ask enough questions. Before television and all the electronics that followed it, telling family stories was a main form of entertainment. Now that all those other things interfere, we have to ask pertinent—or impertinent—questions in order to know family history that goes beyond a list.
I’ll get to practice what I preach this weekend, as I go, for the first time in years, to the family reunion of my maternal grandfather’s family. He had ten siblings and nine children, so options for lots of people and lots of story-telling are many. Maybe I’ll get the answers to some of those questions!