Are you listening?Written by Carol Rice
As a mom, don’t you always wonder if they’re listening? “Son, look at me. Are you listening?” The birth of my first grandbaby gave me a moment when I heard whispered back, “Mom, I am. I always have.”
November 18th began as a normal enough day – but even before noon – it would prove to be anything but routine.
I was raised in a home where our ancestors were talked about often. Their stories were told as if they were living and breathing right there with us. It was natural to do the same when I became a mother. Stories of men and women who forged frontiers, proved undaunted, battled demons, and survived – are part of our norm.
Jenny Duffy is one of those ancestors. A young Irish girl, at the age of 16, boarded a ship entirely alone and sailed to a new home in America. And now, her memory and name, will bridge, at a minimum, six generations of our family.
November 18th began as a normal enough day – but even before noon – it would prove to be anything but routine. In a flurry of phone calls and texts, my son let me know a scheduled visit to the doctor was immediately turning in to an emergency c-section. Our first little grandbaby was arriving today, six weeks early and under duress. Within hours I was sitting on a plane next to our little baby’s maternal grandmother, and anxiously passing time until we could get our hands on everyone. At the time, we were unaware of the truly critical nature of the situation.
After comforting hugs and tears with the new mommy and daddy, Grandma T and I were informed our new little granddaughter was being taken care of in the N.I.C.U. (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). But before my son would escort us to see her, they had something to tell us – her name. Warm, knowing smiles spread across both of their faces as almost reverently they whispered, “Her name is Duffy, Duffy Lin, and we’ve already seen she has the courage of her great, great, great grandmother.” In a moment, generations and legacies of family stories collapsed into one sweet little, pink bundle of blissful joy. Along with it came a peaceful feeling that all would be well, and reassurance that the stories have been told, they have been heard. And at least one more generation will know them.
I grew up in a home rich with family heritage. My mom loved genealogy and knew how to breathe life into dusty documents and color to faded black and white photos - my mom told me stories.
As a grown woman with five children of my own, I've tried to do the same. For years I did it through scrapbooking. But it didn't take long to realize that it wasn't my artistic skills my children really cared about. They never stopped on a page and said, "Mom, you matched that paper to my shirt - perfectly!" Nope. What they did say as they leaned across my lap, pointing at photos is, "Tell me the story!" "Tell me mom about the day I was born... Tell me mom about the day I cried when everyone sang me happy birthday... Tell me mom about my grandma and her garden..."
Don't worry if you haven't done it forever, just start today. The consistency and cumulative effect of one good question - just sharing one story a day, adds up.
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