Recalling the past together

I skipped posting last week because I was busy having a great weekend with the family and then had to catch up on things like tons of laundry and some yard work and then it was Friday. For the first time in about twenty-five years I got to spend Father’s Day with my dad! That’s the penalty for living too far away. I’m such a family person I sometimes think I’m wasting my life living away from my closest relatives. My sister and I were dreaming of our husbands retiring and were debating what town we’d like move to together. Maybe somewhere in Colorado. Hmm, wildfires. Maybe not.

So anyway, we’re all sitting in a restaurant enjoying a Father’s Day lunch buffet and somehow talk turns to my dad and stepmom taking the train back to Chicago the next day so the other half of their vanful of relatives could leave for home that afternoon. Dad looked a little excited and said he hadn’t been in a train since his old army days in Japan. My sister and I corrected him, reminding him how he took us little girls on the train to Union Station Chicago long ago just for a lark one Sunday afternoon. Train memories! Whoo whoo.

Riding the train in Japan, late 1950s

This is just one of those instances where being together with family can jog memories. When you’re interviewing someone for their life story, it can really help to have another family member or two or even an old friend around to help ask questions and recall events. When you’re writing your own stories you may want to run them by a sibling to get their take on it. Two heads can be better than one—unless they’re arguing over details, in which case your opinion counts most.

I love talking to my sister about things that happened because often we each remember different sets of details and together we make a fuller picture. Funny, though…neither I nor my sister nor my dad could remember if my mom went with us on the train ride! I guess that means she stayed home. At least in my memoir.

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
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One Response to Recalling the past together

  1. janmorrill says:

    That’s the best part of family gatherings — everyone recalling memories. It’s the same with my family, often one person remembers something that another does not. So, you’re right, with a memoir or interview, it’s good to have “two heads.” Sounds like a wonderful get together!

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