If youth is the season of hope,
it is often so only in the sense
that our elders are hopeful about us.
~ George Eliot

Remember your roots, your history,
and the forebears’ shoulders on which you stand.
And pass these roots on to your children and to other children.
~ Marian Wright Edelman

Writing – a Gift that Keeps on Giving

When we reminisce with family members about our forebears, sometimes no one is listening.  Lifespan development means that adults care more about family history as they grow into middle age and later life.  Our children are likely not developmentally ready for our memories at the time when we are moved to tell the stories.

That is one reason we write.  We can imagine the perfect reader paying due attention to our fine words.

We realize it may take years before our writings are even read by family members. Yet, we maintain the hope that a child or grandchild will appreciate our work someday.

Our recent family experience illustrates the fate of our memoirs.

For my parents` centennial year 2015, I prepared a booklet with seven poems written about one or both of them over the years. The cover showcased our treasured photo taken on their 50th anniversary – sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs, holding hands, with trees and river visible behind them.  I gave the booklet to our three adult children at Christmas – heard nothing, not even “thanks, Mom“.

On Easter morning (2 years later) our son Kevin sent a photo taken on his balcony that morning. The family was celebrating at their lake-house near Stockholm (Sweden). He awakened early, sought something, any old thing, to take outdoors in the suddenly spring-like morning.

He came upon this booklet among magazines in a bureau drawer. He did not remember seeing the booklet about his grandparents earlier – mixed in the pile of luggage brought back home from a hectic family holiday.   He sat on the balcony, soaked in the warmth, reading one poem after the other, remembering times with Grandma and Grandpa, and reveling in the fresh lifelong perspective on them.

The photo shows my parents looking out over the lake on the other side of their world.  Mom and dad crossed the ocean to sit with their grandson by this lake.

Quite a ripple effect from an intergenerational gift of writing.


Intergenerational Connections

Songs in the Key of Health

Building a 7-generation world | Susan Bosak | TEDxStouffville

Generations United toolkit

The Intergenerational School – Cleveland

Resilient Aging

Healthy Aging: The Bottom Line

Community Engagement

A valued volunteer contribution is reading aloud to people with a visual impairment or helping them to write letters or digital messages.  Mary Munson wrote this essay about making a new best friend – more than a generation older than herself – beginning with reading aloud to her:

I’m 67, She’s 97

With this shadow photo,
I bid you adieu