I’ve helped seniors write their life stories through which the writers’ grandchildren have learned that depression, heart disease and even green thumbs have run in their respective families for generations.
A 95-year-old woman who wrote her story shared it with her son, a retired doctor. He loved it but asked her to please include one sentence about his grandfather dying of Hodgkin’s disease. He said that his mother mentioning it in her written story would be the surest way that his great-grandchildren learn that the genetic disease runs in the family and they could be carriers.
A couple currently writing their stories are both very involved in their church, as are their son and his children. When those grandchildren — now of middle-school age — read about the role of faith in their grandparents’ lives, they will learn that their grandfather’s great-great-great grandfather — a German immigrant — served on the very first parish council at St. Joseph Church in Jasper.
My dad attended a one-room schoolhouse for grades one through eight. He won the school spelling bee as a third-grader. (His prize was a book, something quite precious in 1930 in a farmhouse that had few others.) His granddaughter, who was born three years after he died, won her school’s annual spelling bee more than once.