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Thursday Thirteen Ed. #99: 13 Ways I’m Helping my Grandma Write Her Memoirs

June 28th, 2007

My Grandma is an interesting chick. She’s funny and loud, a great cook, a good friend and listener. I’ve been meaning for years now (since I was in college) to help her jot down some memories. She doesn’t type, use a computer or take shorthand. I do occasionally write, so there you have it.

She turns 87 next Tuesday (it’s my mom’s birthday, too! Happy birthday, Mom!) so Internet, tell my Grandma and Mom happy birthday, would you? And now, for a 13:

13. Grandparents, parents (and uh, me) tend to sometimes tell you the same story over and over and over. Have you noticed this? Not if you’re really listening they don’t. I started asking questions and off we went…

12. I started out by asking her if it was okay if I wrote some things down for my kids, so they can remember her. Maybe a few anecdotes, a little bit of a family tree. Then we added recipes. My grandma and I love recipes. (See here, here and here for a few favorites.)

11. Next thing I know, she’s telling me about the time she and my grandfather ran off to the Memphis Zoo in the middle of the night.

10. Then she’s pouring her heart out, talking about my grandpa, and my dad (my Grandma loved my dad and stood by him when he was so sick), and we’re talking about all this, and about all the places she loved to go camping when her kids were little kids. To her, it seems like that was yesterday. My kids are little kids right now and some days? It feels like it will last forever. But I know it won’t. (I am looking forward to them growing up and dreading it, too.) Time goes so fast. You know that, but you don’t really know it until you’re almost 90, I guess. I made a list of all of her favorite getaways and am including that in the book.

9. The book? Yes. We’re turning it into a book. We can print it through Cafe Press. (PS — Shameless Commerce Plug — You know I sell Wacky Mommy gear at Cafe Press, yes? Go buy some!!!) I am so psyched about this book. She can sell it to her buddies at church, to her family back home, to the neighbors, to her own kids (ha, ha). Funny, eh? She wants to donate the proceeds to Meals on Wheels. (Thank you, Meals on Wheels, for visiting my Grandma five days a week.) I already have I don’t even know how many pages typed up. Twenty or so? I’m shooting for something around one hundred pages. Mebbe one twenty five. And I’ve typed up a bunch of recipes.

8. Including this one. It’s perfect for Fourth of July:

SHOYU CHICKEN
2 lbs. chicken
cup oil
cup soy sauce
cup brown sugar
Garlic (1 clove)
tsp. grated ginger

Mix. Marinate. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour or barbeque, turning twice. Sauce can be thickened with cornstarch.

7. Which reminds me. I need to get her potato salad recipe. And the recipe for the salad she makes with butter lettuce and milk dressing.

6. I’ve found out all kinds of stuff about our family, the Depression, World War II, her life. For instance, her brother was a bootlegger. And she and my Grandpa used to own a store, back home in Arkansas.

5. My mom is psyched, too — she has a family tree she’s going to send me, so we can include that in the front. It goes back to 1730!! Geez, who knew? That’s on my Grandpa’s side. And my Grandma’s side goes back to her grandparents, around the 1860s? My mom is going to keep researching.

4. It has made us closer, talking. I’ve been trying to call her at least every other day, and interviewing her for an hour or so at a time. Sometimes it’s a little much for her, tripping down memory lane. It can be a little intense.

3. But her mind is so clear and her memories are so strong. I’m grateful for this.

2. It means a lot to my mom.

1. My cousin and I are planning to add a memories section to the back, with our favorite stories about her. And we’re going to put a section of “Grandma-isms” in there, too. Fun!! Happy Thursday, everyone!

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
— Madeleine L’Engle, writer (1918- )

12 Comments

  1. Chris says

    WOW! What a great list and what a great thing you are doing with your grandma! I was very close with my grandmother but was only 16 when she passed. I have some great stories but I wish so much that we had more time together so I could have heard even more about her childhood and her life with my grandfather. This is something you’ll cherish your entire life!

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  2. sunny says

    What a treasure. Maybe you could include some pictures in the book too. That way whoever reads it can put a face with the name. We did something similar for my grandma’s 80th birthday, but it was a picture album of her life.

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  3. WackyMommy says

    Chris — how cool that you had such a nice gram. They are treasures, no?

    Sunny — I forgot to mention the pictures. Yes! I have a bunch of great photos we’ll run in the book, including one of her brother with his still.

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  4. SlipOfAGirl says

    Great ideas — are you recording the conversations too? Then you’ll not only avoid missing anything, but have her voice preserved too. :)

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  5. WackyMommy says

    SlipOfAGirl — great idea. We’ll take the camcorder out there, or maybe a tape recorder would be less intimidating? Thanks.

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  6. Crissybug says

    What a great idea! I have the same birthday as your Mom and Grandma!

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  7. MommasWorld says

    I really enjoyed this post. So true that you hear the same stories over and over again but when you listen it is a little different. Sometimes it is your own perspective of life at the time you hear the story. You listen more when they tell a story about when they were the Mom if you are in the Mom stage of your life. Less if you are in your childhood.

    I started my blog due to my Dad’s desire to write his memoirs. He proclaimed this right before his 3rd retirement. I bought him a book, tape recorder and filing system. I also offered to type for him since he types via the Columbus System (discover and land on key). He also said he will use Mom’s diaries to help jog his memory and include the times at home when he was out to sea.

    Also my Dad was given a large Rubbermaid lawn container full of photos unmarked. Some are actually Tin. For this reason and his want to write down his own memoirs made me realize I also need to write down my day to day and fav memories. Thus my blog started.

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  8. Jenny says

    Oh, this so made me miss my Grandmother. She’s been gone for 5 years now and she had some great stories. Tough yankee, but boy what they had to live through with the Depression and WW2!

    This is a wonderful project, thank you for sharing.

    June 28th, 2007 | #

  9. Mallory says

    First off, awesome project! What a gift for your kids. When my mom was sooooo sick and we thought we might lose her, I was wishing I had done this with her. Your grandma sounds like an interesting chick!

    I have no idea if you will get this because it seems like sometimes my comments don’t show up here after I’ve submitted them. I will go back and reread a post (you’re that good!) and poof! no comment when I know I’ve left one. Odd.

    June 29th, 2007 | #

  10. WackyMommy says

    Mallory, it was my junk mail filter. Dang it. I’ll check it more regularly. And thank you!!!

    June 29th, 2007 | #

  11. edj says

    GOOD FOR YOU!! Sign me up for a copy! Sounds fascinating.
    I want to write a book on my mother’s life–her town was bombed in WWII, single woman in Ethiopia in the 50s, evacuated from Lebanon in the 60s, etc. but I never get around to DOING it. You inspire me.

    June 29th, 2007 | #

  12. WackyMommy says

    Edj, just do it.

    June 29th, 2007 | #

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