My grandfather died in 1979, I was 37 years old. My grandmother died two years later, I was 39. My father died in 1985, I was 43. Before you do the math, I will tell you that in 13 days I will be 72, but this is not a post about age. It is a post about gathering information, or rather about not gathering information. And by information I mean stories.
I have done some significant genealogical research of my family tree, and am fairly happy with my results. However, genealogy has to do with names, dates, locations, relationships, and other vital statistics. It does not tell the story. I know a lot about what happened, when, and where, but I don’t know why or how.
My grandfather was a remarkable man. His story needs to be told, so I am in the process of doing research for what will be a book about his early life. He was a circuit riding preacher in the early 1900’s. The problem is I didn’t ask him, my grandmother, my father, or any of my uncles and aunts to tell me the story. I certainly had the time and the access necessary to ask the questions, but I just didn’t see the need, until now. But now is too late. They are all dead.
Luckily he left behind a lengthy handwritten document telling a lot of his story, but there are things missing that would be interesting to tell. Why did your family decide to leave East Tennessee in 1888 and move to North Texas? How did you travel? What was the trip like? What was school like? What were your chores on the farm? What crop did you and your brothers and your father raise? When was the first time you had indoor plumbing? Well, you probably get the point by now. I have a million of these questions.
I am beginning to be able to fill in some of the gaps, but wouldn’t it be fun to have the real answers? This book will, of necessity, be part fictional. I will have to invent certain situations, events, and conversations from my own imagination. I just want it to make sense and be true to the times.
If you are reading this post, and have parents, grandparents, uncles, or aunts still living, take the time and opportunity to ask them the questions. It might not seem important now, but some day you will be glad you did.