06 March 2020

Stories Live On

Last Sunday I listened to several people talk about their strongly held beliefs. It was their desire that their children and grandchildren know of these beliefs. Unfortunately, most did not have all their children and grandchildren present as they testified. Even if they had been there, would they have been in a time and place in their lives to hear what was said?

As I get older, I often wonder what will I have left of myself here when I am not. The written word is my best chance of leaving a taste of who I am. It can serve as an influence even when my voice is gone.

Last Sunday, our grandson ate breakfast with us. We had pancakes. Chatty, as always, Orson wanted to compare notes with his grandpa. “Remember when your mother made pancakes for you the morning you got baptized,” he asked. “Dollar pancakes?”

“Yes,” Jim replied. “My mother made mine dollar size so I could eat more than my dad did.”
“The Black Tag Secret,” mused Orson. We all knew what he meant. It was the title of a story about Jim’s baptism day that Jim wrote in his recently published autobiography. Orson continued to quote details about various stories in the book until I asked him if he had read the whole thing. “Oh yes,” he replied. It was obvious that he had. In fact, the day before, he requested copies of some stories Jim has written since that book. By the next day, Orson informed me that I had made double copies of one of those stories. He looked over my originals and quickly selected the one he was missing.

Shortly after another young grandson, Alex, received his copy of Jim’s book, his mother told us that he had taken it to school with him, because he was in the middle of a story.

Center: Jim's book on display at RootsTech 2020
The book of stories and philosophy Jim gifted his children and grandchildren with at Christmastime seems to have made an impact already. But to me, the most interesting reaction came from Jim, himself. He worries about losing his memories and even losing himself. Maybe that’s the reason he has become so enthusiastic about writing that he sets aside a time every day to do so. I lose track of him for a time, and then he calls me to come and read what he has written on his computer. He has made himself a list of story prompts on his phone, and he often adds to it. He has even begun his own blog at https://rememberingmylifeinstories.blogspot.com/.

I think there is something very satisfying about recording our life’s journey and our thoughts and the lessons we have gained from that journey. It’s not easy. It’s not fun, at least I don’t think so. But I see more than ever that it’s valuable. I treasure the writings and the stories of my parents and grandparents and ancestors. And I love to see other people treasure them too. It’s the influence we have on coming generations that may have lasting value. I hope so.

And I hope I will soon compile some of my own stories.