Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What is Thanksgiving FOR? Herding Cats.

I am home alone with the internet this Thanksgiving and I was reading Marcia Mayo's marvelous story of her Thanksgiving with her relatives and her attempt to record family history, Don't Move Pat.  He Got Run Over by a Fire Truck..  She relates this story at  in the Elder Storytelling Place  an off-shoot of Time Goes By blog.  It occurred to me that I want to share her story and perhaps make a suggestion how one might get the most out of this Holiday.

Admirably, Marcia hound-dogged her elder relatives to try and get them to talk; tell the stories; relate the anecdotes that become lost and confused and that, often, sadly die with the inevitable death of those who were present.  It reads with the joy of watching someone trying to herd cats because, I think, for the most part elders have been disparaged from telling their stories and are out of practice in feeling welcome to do so.  Still, I think she is really on to something. 

I spent a good deal of time culling information from my Mother when I was in therapy in the 80's.  I would ply her with copiuos amounts of brandy [her Achilles heel] and she'd let 'er rip.  Sometimes she told me appalling things that I could use to solicit truly unwarranted sympathy from my women friends who were also suffering under the oppression of our twisted childhoods.  Blah, Blah, Blah... (Is it any wonder a Mother does not want to speak up?) My intention was not honorable, I realize now, but what I did get was some really interesting information regarding the perspectives of women born in the early part of the twentieth century.  I only wish I had recorded those sessions as I think I would hear much more in them now than I was able to understand at the time.  Plus, of course, I would also have the comfort of my Mother's a voice...a voice silenced in passing a few years now...

Marcia also reminds us that November 26th is the "National Day of Listening".  It strikes me that if Thanksgiving weekend is good for anything when one is emerged in family happily or otherwise, it might be a generous consideration to capture as one can what Aunt Mabel or Dad has to say about what they remember and how they remember it.  The magic of this trick is to allow "in their own words", I think. 

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving and that you can enjoy the moment and solicit something of value from your family history to make you smile and fuel you through your own journey...and deeper into your own story.

1 comment:

marciamayo said...

Aw Cile, I'm so honored you wrote about me and my story so beautifully. I'm also so happy to have you for a friend, Friend. I think you are correct in your belief that elders have been told in so many ways that no one wants to hear their tired memories. That needs to change, especially now that the one with the memories is me!