My grandmother carefully refilled my son’s milk glass. Like a script, Granddaddy launched into his recollection, which my young son could probably quote along with him word for word for having heard it so often. “David, when I was a kid, we always lived at the edge of town, but Dad always made sure we had a good milk cow…”
There was the story he loved to tell about the first time he saw my Granny. “I was standing at the movie theater with my friend when Evelyn got off the bus. I leaned over to my friend and I said, “See that girl over there? I’m gonna marry her.” He’d run his fingers through his silvery hair with that faraway look in his eye, then he’d catch Granny’s eye. “Course, she didn’t have gray hair back then,” he’d joke as Granny rolled her eyes and refrained from pointing out his own graying hair.
The Power of Memories
As Granddaddy’s memory began to deteriorate and the oft-repeated stories were recalled with more and more difficulty, my heart ached. One day I brought my video camera over to the house and asked him some questions, just to get his mind back to the days where it was so comfortable. Although he is now in heaven, I can watch that recording and go back and revisit the day my Granddaddy leaned back against the tidy couch in his neat plaid button-down shirt, his legs crossed and his memory, for once, strong and eager to explore the paths of yesteryear. As I asked him those questions, many of which I could have answered better than he did for all the times he’d told me the stories, I observed how powerful the memory can be. (Read “Remaining at Home with your Memories“)
The gift of recollection is one that is precious to our grandparents, yet so often it goes unshared as we, the younger generations, are so busy with life we forget to stop and ask for directions. Whether you have living grandparents who can share their memories with you or you can “adopt” a lonely senior at the nursing home, here are twenty questions that most grandparents will love to answer again and again.
- What did your parents do for a living?
- Where did your family live? What was their heritage?
- Please tell me about your brothers and sisters. How did you all get along?
- What was school like for you? What were you best at, and what subjects did you dislike? Who was your favorite teacher you ever had?
- What kind of a child were you? What did you like to do for fun? What kind of chores did you have to do?
- When did you learn to drive? What did you drive? Where would you go?
- What aunts and uncles lived close by? Did you have cousins or grandparents around very often?
- Where was the furthest you ever went on a trip? What was the occasion?
- Who did you most look up to as a child?
- What was your religious upbringing? How did it affect you?
- What were some popular songs and pastimes when you were young?
- When did you have your first date? Where did you go?
- How much school did you complete? Are you glad for how far you went, or do you wish you had gone farther? Why?
- Do you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated? When we walked on the moon? Do you remember Pearl Harbor or D-Day?
- What was your first job? How did you get it?
- What was your wedding day like? How did your in-laws treat you? Where did you live once you got married?
- What was the most wonderful day of your life?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?
- What is the most memorable day in history that you remember?
- What advice do you have to pass on to the next generation?
If you choose to ask the special seniors in your life these questions, be prepared for an intriguing visit. As they answer each question, do your best to probe deeper and get “the rest of the story,” not just the basic facts. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn from a single afternoon spent really listening to those who have so much to tell and so few to listen.
To learn more about how Assisting Hands of Boca Raton and Delray Beach can help you and your elderly parent or grandparent, watch this short video shared below and feel free to call us anytime at (561) 404-0550: