Wednesday, 28 August 2013

{Lifestle} How to write one's life journey...

Some time ago now, I read a book I really enjoyed: "The Shoemaker's Wife", by Adriana Trigiani. I loved it so much that if I have another daughter I'm seriously considering calling her Enza. It really got me thinking about the adventure life truly is, and how life can become an extraordinary journey depending on which paths we choose to take.
It especially got me thinking about my mother's family, more specifically, my grand-mother. As with most people, I did not know much about my grand-mother until my teenager years, when I started paying more attention to my family's background. My grand-mother was born in Malta. She worked in Valletta during WWII. She married young. At some point, she found out that her husband was cheating on her and so she asked for a divorce. Her family did not support her in this request, and her husband did not give her one for a long time. She therefore decided she would leave him and go back to the UK, where her family were originally from. She travelled to the UK by herself with just one of her three sons. In the UK she became ill and spent a considerable amount of time in a sanatorium. She then met my grand-father while waiting for another date in a pub. She worked in the passport office in London. She saw the Queen's coronation in London. She was always dressed very elegantly, I especially remember a photo of her in heels, gloves and a hat on a family day out to the beach! She is also a proud and strong minded woman, and appears to always have been: when she attended an interview when she decided to go back to work after having my mother and aunt, she noticed how young all the girls seemed in the office, and so she lied about her age and managed to get away with this for quite some time! She also used to go down the slides with us at the swimming pool well into her 70s, and kept going to keep-fit classes and danced rock and roll well up until her 80s! The stories go on... She has led a busy life!
When I finished reading "The Shoemaker's Wife", I told my mum about it and said a book could be written about her mother's life along the same lines. However my mum did not have time to write down all the stories about my grand mother, as by then my grand dad had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and unfortunately the day-to-day life of my family had become even more busy than it was to start with, with trying to organise and maintain the care of my grand parents amongst everything else.
It did make me wish I'd paid more attention to all the details of the stories my grand mother and family members had told me over the years. My grand parents are still alive, but this is a big task retrospectively, and living far away from them makes things even more difficult.
However the idea of writing down my family's history is never far away... My mother, who is fascinated with genealogy, has gathered a very detailed family tree over the years. However I feel like I am missing the stories to bring the names and dates to life.
Earlier today, when discussing what we did over the weekend, my lovely neighbour told me about the present she had bought for her mother-in-law. She had found a book, a journal of sorts, which asked lots of questions for the person to complete. The website describes it as follows:
I had previously found a website that follows a similar concept, entitled "this is me challenge". I've not yet had a chance to complete the challenge itself but I've always kept a note of the link for when the day comes I decide to do so. However I have to say that, being perhaps a little old fashioned in my love of books, I like the idea of having a ready made book containing the questions and answers all together.
It so happens that my mum's birthday is coming up next month, and so I have just ordered one of these books for her. I am not sure whether my mum will see this as an exciting task to complete, or as a chore considering how busy her life is right now... I seriously hope it won't be the latter, as I am very excited at the prospect of reading her answers, which can then be passed down to her grandchildren as a treasured story book.
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