One red dress in 1957 is now a family of 45. My dad bought this pretty little dress for my mom shortly after they met, and so their story begins. She wore it to their first dance, which was at the Island Lake Hall, and I love to see the expression on mom’s face as she recalls how handsome dad was and how terrible the gravel roads were!

I love listening to stories about people. For the past couple of years, I have been researching my parents’ ancestors and DNA, and I am intrigued by their lineage, but I am continually wondering ‘who’ my ancestors were. I know the names of many, and where they lived, when they were born, and when they passed away. But who were they? What was their story? What did they dream about? What did they long for? What did they believe? What were the experiences that shaped them? This is a missing piece of the puzzle for me. I want to know ‘who’ they were.

I have no way of knowing my ancestors, but I am intentional about getting my parents’ stories. Have you thought about getting your parent’s story?

Getting your parents’ story doesn’t have to be difficult. You can hire someone to document your parent’s story, or you can work on it yourself. Below are three important points to remember if you want to document your parent’s story.

1) REFUSE BIAS

a. Families are the best, but they are also hubs for deeply rooted assumptions about everyone’s character – and that includes our parents. If you want to get your parents’ story, you need to get rid of all bias and personal perceptions – otherwise it will be your story about your parents rather than their story about themselves. Refuse the urge to adjust their words, story, and/or ideas even if you see it differently.

2) LISTEN

a. Listen, listen, and listen. I cannot stress this enough. Do not add ‘your experiences’ to the conversation. Keep it about your parents, and keep your own words to a minimum.

3) DESCRIBE

a. Ask your parents to describe their experiences, their emotions, and what they felt. Remember to use the big five: who, what, when, where, and why!

If you would like to know more about how to write your parents’ story, message me, or email me at janice@lensandlegacy.ca

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