I always loved when Grandma and Grandpa Egbert came to visit. Climbing into bed and snuggling between them, I always fought off sleep to ask, “Tell me a story from when you were little, please?” Soon I could tell the stories better than they could, and I could remember the details that they had forgotten. After I had grown too big to snuggle in between them, I often reflected on those stories they shared and drew wisdom from them. I believe we can draw strength from our grandparents’ experiences.
Why wait to learn for ourselves the lessons our grandparents already learned? All we have to do is ask. I have heard family stories help children to better understand other’s emotions and thoughts. They help teenagers to feel connected and grounded. Family stories can even help adults to remember more and become better storytellers. Who doesn’t want that?
Grandma often told stories of falling from barn windows, two stories up. Or, passing out in school only to wake up long after the class had been dismissed. I often wondered what others thought when this had happened and why no one had helped her. I have found myself hovering close to those hurt or distraught, trying to help and soothe them. I’d like to think I’m helping out because I wished someone had been there to help or comfort my grandma.
Grandpa was always busy doing something like fixing things or getting his crops to grow. Whenever they came to visit, he always fixed what was broken and made my toys “better” in some way. Grandpa’s bedtime stories were usually about life on the farm. He grew up on a farm in Idaho, then homesteaded a farm in Washington. Hard work was forever in his life. I love being innovative like him and fixing things that people think can’t be fixed. I’d like to think I get that from Grandpa, that I learned the value of hard work from him.
My other grandpa, Grandpa Papenfuss, taught at Ricks College and I remember him behind his desk in the office down the long hallway. Even now, years after he has retired and died, people stop me to ask if he was my grandpa. When I say yes, they start telling me stories about him wandering behind students and making them too nervous to type, or of him helping out a student who had fallen on hard times. When I think of all the good I saw my grandpa do while teaching, I know why I enjoy teaching others as well.
My other grandma, Grandma Papenfuss, sews all the time. She can make any clothing item you want, plus blankets and pillows and stuffed animals. I remember heading to her house to show her a new pattern for a dress or skirt I wanted to make. I enjoyed spending the afternoon with her as we sewed and talked about her family. Most visits ended with a homemade dinner. I love that she showed me the joy in home keeping.
Some nights, as my five-year-old snuggles in his bed in between me and his bear, he remembers to ask me for a story about his grandma great or his grandpa great when they were his age. I smile, remembering those precious nights when I snuggled in with my grandparents to learn the life lessons I base my life on now.
I believe the time to learn from our grandparents is now. There is so much we can learn from them. I learned compassion, hard work, the love of teaching and homemaking, and so much more from my grandparents. Yes, there is much I will have to learn on my own, but for now, learning these lessons have enriched my life.
And this is why I share my family history with my children.
(This blog post has been included in the Family Locket’s blog link up for March 21, 2017. Come check out why some other people share family history with children by clicking here.)