Saturday, January 1, 2011
I have lots of first-hand memories. Don't we all! They come from interactions with people, from experiences, from reading a book or watching a movie, from living life. I also have many second-hand memories, the result of others (mostly my aunts and a cousin) retelling their experiences in life and experiences with older family members including my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Some of these family members - ancestors - I never knew or didn't know when they were younger.
Another person's memory, given to me, becomes my own memory. Not my own in the same way as first-hand experience, by my own, nonetheless. My imagination embellishes the story my aunt told about my father and the homemade candy until I can almost see him as a little fellow in the farmhouse kitchen. I know by heart the house where my mother and her parents and sisters lived in the story my aunt told about her own grandfather teasing the grandchildren. I never saw the factory where two of my great-uncles were killed but I’ve seen postcards of the factory and read newspaper articles about their deaths.
These second-hand experiences become my own memories, and I share these experiences and memories here on this blog. I believe sharing first- and second-hand memories is a way that we can come to know those we have never met in person. It’s also a way to keep the memories of our ancestors alive. This is important to me because I can learn from my ancestors. The life of every one of my ancestors (if I can uncover/discover the story) offers a lesson in courage, determination, compassion, dedication, faith, or other worthy attributes and/or even some unsavory lessons in how not to live life.
I believe every one of my ancestors, not just the rich and famous, deserves to be remembered. I believe those who come after me, my daughters, in particular, and all descendants of those who came before, can expand their memories by learning about their ancestors. I hope that my family members who read posts about our ancestors will remember and share their experiences with their own children. I hope they'll share both their first- and second-hand memories.