For Memorial Day I went on a visit to cemeteries in Morgan with one of my sons and my dad. It was a good trip. We visited the graves of my grandparents and great grandparents in the Enterprise Cemetery and then visited the graves of ancestors from another branch of my mother’s family in the Milton Pioneer Cemetery. I like Memorial Day. I enjoy the day of remembrance when we think about those who have gone before and honor those who gave their lives for us.
While we were at the graveside I talked to my son about the ancestors we visited. I shared with him some of the memories I have of my grandmother and some of the family stories I have about others in the family. Some of these he has heard before and some were new. Somehow visiting the graves makes the stories more real and tangible.
The stories we share with our children sometimes don’t seem like reality to them, it seems. When you stand with them at the side of the grave, of the person about whom you are sharing a story, it brings a reality that connects the story to their life. This oral tradition of family history is an important one. It helps our children connect with their past. They can hear of ways that their ancestors lived and the challenges they overcame. I think it helps them put their life in perspective.
As we were driving my father and I talked a little about his life. He shared a little of his experience growing up in Brigham City as his father mined coal. My father lived in a small two room house that had an outhouse. The two room house was about the size of my current family room. My father also shared a little about his courtship of my mother and his life in the Navy. He talked about how he graduated from high school in the Navy and then went on to earn his degree in electronic engineering.
My son learned a little more about his family. He learned more about his grandfather and grandmother. He saw a real person who had lived a long life and raised a family, not just a grandfather who is retired.
These small moments of family sharing are as important as any trip to an archive. I think sometimes we miss opportunities to help our children understand who they are and who came before. We allow the time to pass by unnoticed when we could help them understand their heritage and appreciate it.
This Memorial Day I am grateful for the small moments. I am grateful that we took a moment while driving to share memories and give my son a glimpse of who he is, through who came before. Thank goodness for the small moments.