Memory Exercises

In our married years, the husband and I and the girls have spent considerably more time with my family than with his. I was always the one who took the kids on vacation and it was easier to go to a place I was familiar with. I always knew that I would be able to fit in, help out and not have to be entertained by my folks. By our sixth year of marriage, both of Dennis’s parents had died, so that made it harder to visit Pennsylvania too. His brother and sister both had young, active families. They were busy.

Grandma Vida Dietz, our Julia, sister-in-law Deanna. This visit to our home in Wisconsin was the last time we saw Dennis’s mom.

For some reason, a few days ago I began thinking about how I would go about helping my girls know this half of their heritage. I wasn’t clear on some of the stories (of which there are many) told at their family gatherings and I couldn’t even remember the names of all the husband’s aunts and uncles. Clearly, I needed to do something about this void of information, especially since I have the husband available to me, and he loves to remember. The girls also love that side of the family even though they don’t know them quite as well.

So this week, after our Bible reading time, I have been asking Dennis questions about the family for an hour or two. It doesn’t take much to get him going. Since he talks kind of slow I can keep up with him, typing out what he says. It was often said of him that he had a photographic memory and amazing recall of things said as well as things seen. It has perhaps grown a little “fuzzy” with his dementia problems, but if he hits a wall on something, he calls his brother Ron and they talk it out.

Daughter Julie sitting on Dad’s lap at her very first Penn Dutch quilting bee.

It’s been interesting, and what a worthy project. I have learned so much about interviewing. Many things I would not have thought about asking Dennis for my own sake, I do think of asking for my girls – things kids want to know about their parents. These are stories and facts that they should know in order to value the general concept of family as well as their own particular family.

And as an added bonus, this might be just what I need right now to help me appreciate what an interesting person I have been married to these last 49 years.

The grandparents they never got to know,