Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remember the Stories ~ Celebrate 2017 (fifteen)

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share the celebrations from our week.

I recently read an article and an obituary in our Catholic newspaper.  I didn't know the man, but here is what I learned about him.  He loved his family and friends.  He shared his deep faith with those around him.  He was a dedicated and beloved teacher.  And he was loved in return.

Because of his illness, he was able to write his own obituary. It wasn't your typical obituary which listed his survivors and his accomplishments in life. Instead, it was a letter to those he left behind.  In his words, he reminded them to "Remember the stories." 

These words have lingered with me.

This week I have been spending time with my Grandma who has Dementia. Her caregivers, my mom and aunts, are taking a much needed vacation. I sit with her, hold her loving, wrinkled hands in mine, and remember the stories.  

I know she doesn't know who I am, but I know she knows I belong to her.  Her face lights up and the tension and agitation releases in her body when she sees me.  She kisses my cheek and tells me she loves me. We sit together, and the words she remembers how to speak become our conversation. It may be just bits and pieces, but they are still her stories.

It is hard for her.

It is hard for me.  

Several times I have had to hold back the tears.  It just isn't fair.  But it is a reminder of why I write:  to remember the stories of my own life.  I am afraid I will travel down the same path, and I won't remember my stories. Writing our story is the inscription of our lives.  It is the gift we leave behind. Inscriptions may become worn, but they remain.  Just like our stories.

It is also a reminder of why it is important that we teach the power of story to our students. I wrote stories at a young age, and I had many teachers who encouraged me to write. Today, many students think of writing as something we do just at school. Many students write only for their teacher or for a standardized test.  But they have many stories to tell, with many still unwritten.  We must help them to understand the power of stories.  We must help them to write for those they love and for those who love them.

It is difficult for young students to imagine themselves as being old like the man in the obituary and like my grandma.  It is difficult for them to think about the stories they will live to tell.  Teaching our students to remember the stories (and to write them) as young children, is a simple celebration and a gift we must give them.


  1. I love your wise words, Leigh Anne. I'm feeling the writing coming back, and with summer just a week away for me, I think I'm ready, too!

  2. This is such a powerful message Leigh Anne. Remember the stories is a sentence I'm going to write in my notebook.

  3. This is beautiful, Leigh Anne. What a loving thing you're doing with your grandmother. One of mine could no longer speak in her final months, but there was still a smile and a holding hands, just as you're describing. Ingrid (so far) is writing stories, some she makes up and some she is writing down because they are stories her dad tells her. It's going to be a special thing to keep for her own future. Thanks for sharing today.

  4. I have been spending the week with family and enjoying the stories so much. I want to capture them and your message makes that more important to me. I did take a moment to record my dad telling a story to my cousin. There are the stories that are retold every time family gathers. But this week I am wanting to capture the ones that I haven't heard before. Thanks. Your time with your grandmother is such a blessing for both of you.

  5. "Remember the stories." I love this advice!

  6. Your words reminded me of visiting my grandmother who was in a care center when I started my teaching career. Sometimes, she knew me, but more often than not, she thought I was someone else. But she always welcomed me. I'm so glad you're able to be there to hold your Grandma's hand and give her caregivers some much needed respite time. What a gift for you and them!

  7. Touching and beautiful words.

  8. Leigh Anne, your love for your grandma is evident and your need to continue to remember the stories. These lines are wonderful. "Writing our story is the inscription of our lives. It is the gift we leave behind. Inscriptions may become worn, but they remain. Just like our stories." I want to savor the moments in my life as a grandmother now. I want to build the stories with Sierra so that she can grow to become a proud young lady and writer.

  9. Precious family.

    How I love this...
    Remember the stories.

  10. Love "writing is the inscription of our lives." Vital and valuable. Blessings on your grandmother and on you. Here's to capturing the words and the journey, and to preserving the stories.