I just got home from my weekly grocery shop. When I left the grocery store I was a wee bit grumpy, the cashier wasn’t happy and ensured we all felt it. Grumpy is contagious, so I was in a mood putting my groceries into the car and then going to put the cart back.
And then, everything changed…
As I got close to where you put your cart back an older gentlemen was already putting his cart back, and he started chatting to me. He wanted to know what I thought of not having to go to the grocery store, having your groceries delivered instead. And that question led to us chatting for a good 20 minutes, him talking about the old days, days he said I was too young to know about. The thing is, I knew all about the days he was talking about, not about big things, just how people lived back then, how kids worked and helped out at very young ages because they had too, there wasn’t money to hire things done.
I knew about what daily life was like in the first half of the last century because mom and dad told stories of growing up. Many stories. Simple stories. Stories that popped into their mind because we were doing something similar, or something in a conversation sparked a memory.
Stories connect the present to the past, it creates a continuum that is, perhaps, even more important in an adopted family than a biological family. Because of those stories I feel connected to mom and dad’s ancestors more than I probably would not having a biological connection. Tell your stories, they can be as short as a half-dozen sentences or as long as you want. If you are reminded of something growing up, share it. Encourage other family members to share.
Make it a habit to connect your family in the past to your family in the present.
Towards the end of our chat, we circled back to his opening question – I told him about dad talking about delivering milk when he was 6, how he just had to get off and deliver milk when the horse stopped, as the horse knew the route. The old gentlemen had done the same, the horse knew when to stop, even though he was 20 years younger than dad, that was still how milk got delivered back then. The difference in his story, one day, one of the roads on his route got a stop light installed and the horse ran the light and he got in trouble.
What’s old is new again, groceries used to be delivered way back when.
At the close of the conversation, I asked him if he’d ever told his stories to his children or grandchildren. He said he hadn’t. I told him he should, that they bind you together and are a gift, and the next time they come over, to tell them to hit record of their phone and to start telling them stories. To tell them about delivering milk where the horse was the one who knew the route, about running the stop light. I hope he does.
I hope you tell your stories too.
Happy Father’s Day