My grandmother was born in Austria and when I visited there this summer I felt an immediate connection. When I had my first bite of apple strudel, it triggered a flood of memories. The last time I ate apple strudel was when I was a child and my grandma made it. I posted a photo of the apple strudel on Facebook and my cousin asked, “Is grandma in the kitchen?” Apparently I was not the only one with fond memories of grandma. And yet it was the post by my older sister that warmed my heart. She shared that when she left for school in the morning she remembered my mother and grandmother lining the floor under the dining room table with newspaper and covering the table for strudel making. When she returned after school they were just finishing. I ate strudel every chance I could on my recent trip and remembered my grandma with each bite.
Memories can be especially hard to come by when you are young when a loved one dies. I know because I was just 11 when my father died and my memories of him are fleeting at best. I always loved to hear stories about my dad but I grew up in a time when people felt uncomfortable talking about the deceased. I was not savvy enough to solicit stories and all my storytellers are now gone and their stories silenced.
One of my friends died when her daughter was 13. The daughter is now 22 and actively requests stories from her mom’s friends. I have lots to share and I have taken to doling them out. I think they are more meaningful one at a time so I craft a story using Microsoft Word® and then copy and paste it in an email to my friend’s daughter. This exchange is meaningful to us both. I get a chance to revisit special moments with a dear friend and make her beloved daughter happy to learn another facet about her mom; a positive experience all-around.
You may also have a treasure trove of memories just waiting to share. Why keep them to yourself if it might make someone feel really good? If you’re unsure, ask first if they would like to hear a story. It is not often that we get a chance to make a difference; so what are you waiting for?
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.
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