Becoming Our Best


Cousin Janet and I were talking recently about our Mothers and Fathers getting older, and somehow thinking they will always be with us. Many times we delay asking them about their lives and their parents’ lives until “sometime later”. In my personal and professional experience, a lot of people wait until an unexpected event like Alzheimer’s, disability, or death doesn’t allow any more questions to be answered. It is a sad day when that happens, because now we’ll never know the family history.

So what can we do to make sure we don’t miss these important recollections, and have the conversations that count? First of all, a somewhat structured interview format will get better information. And here are some other thoughts that may help:

Be patient: You may need to present the idea of an “interview” conversation to the elders 4 or 5 times, over a period of months or years to get them to agree to it.

Develop a list of questions, to ensure you cover the important matters in your family’s history.

Have a few shorter conversations. The elders may tire or become disinterested in a session that lasts too long.

See if someone can do a video of the interview, so that future generations can get a better sense of who the elders really are.

Getting recollections of family history can be a difficult assignment. There may be “skeletons in the closet” the elders don’t want to discuss, unhappy events they don’t want to remember or secrets they don’t want you to know. With patience and love, you can usually work around these difficulties. And remember, whatever you can talk about with them and record will be a treasure for future generations.

Procrastination about having these conversations is the usual way of dealing with them. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

Back to BOB Main