Do you know someone who is a few generations older than you? Do you have access to visit a nursing home? Have you ever spent an afternoon getting to know them? If not, I would like to highly encourage you to consider doing so.
Spending even a few minutes listening to their stories will surely give you a new perspective on the world today. I have spent many hours sitting in my relatives’ living rooms asking questions, listening to stories and just being available to talk. It is difficult to wrap my mind around that world, that way of life, but listening to their stories helps make it a little more real. It is hard to understand that the world has changed so much in less than 100 years.
I can’t help but wonder ... How different will the world be in 50 years or 100 years? What changes will take place in my lifetime or my daughter’s lifetime? Will we see more moments of sadness or more moments of joy?
I have heard stories of immense hardships and stories of great happiness. Listening to these stories made me want to learn more, want to know more. Luckily, so did my brother. He had the time available to dig deeper when I didn’t. He started looking into my parents’ past, my grandparents’ past, my great-grandparents’ past and so on. Researching our family tree, visiting graveyards, visiting relatives and listening to their stories, and soon we were discovering things about our family we never knew before.
I didn’t always have the time to go with him on these trips but enjoyed following along as our tree grew. I enjoyed taking trips to visit graveyards with him when I found the time. What had started out as wanting to spend time with a dear family member grew into what was almost like a quest, a treasure hunt. I greatly appreciate everything he has done to keep the stories, the history preserved for future generations. Soon, I found myself wanting to do the same for my daughter. With the help of my brother, I have now begun her family tree as well. I look forward to listening to stories of her family and watching her tree grow also.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, around 490,000 American veterans from World War II were estimated to still be alive in September 2018. Every day that number grows smaller. By the year 2025, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs assumes that there will only be around 57,000 World War II veterans left. There are even fewer survivors of the Great Depression still alive. Even those people who did not fight in the war or did not struggle through the Depression still have stories that are very different from anything that we are living today.
These survivors, these heroes, these mentors have stories to tell and wisdom to share. We need to take the time, slow down a little, turn off the electronics and allow ourselves to truly listen, observe and learn as much of our history as we can before it is lost to us forever.
SARAH CAMERON, of Ottawa, who grew up in Seneca, is a working mother by day, passionate writer by night, saving the world one word at a time.