Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.
I have a great aunt who is exactly one month away from her 100th birthday. My mother’s father’s sister has always been on the periphery of my life, but it has only been in the past two years that I have truly begun to know my Aunt Jeannette.
As can happen, when I had a baby something new stirred in me. I began to wonder what I would tell him about where our people came from. My ancestry is something I knew so incredibly little about, and I had honestly never cared too much to ask. But now, as I watched my baby turn into a little boy, I wanted to know in detail, who exactly were our people?
I decided I had to find out, and asking the oldest person in my family was the best place to start.
When my four-year-old son and I arrived at Aunt Jeannette’s door after the two-day road trip, she welcomed us in to her home, and began immediately telling stories. Stories about growing up with two older brothers, one of whom was my grandfather, with whom she did not always see eye to eye. Stories about the German dinners, cooked by her mother, who I am named after, and her father, a loving but driven businessman. Stories about her grandparents and the farms they worked, and the faraway lands they came from, all of which I never even dreamed about. She spoke, I listened (and saved her words with a digital recorder), and my son danced around the room making us laugh. I began to see my great aunt more clearly, and a world of richness and understanding about who I am opened in front of me. I started to know what to tell my son about our people.
But he already understands. Weeks after our trip to visit Aunt Jeannette, my son turned to me at breakfast and said “I’m so lucky. Because I have an aunt who is almost one hundred.” Yes, indeed, we are lucky.
In your journal today, write a story about your oldest living relative. Write about times spent together, and how you feel about those experiences. Write about time you wish you could spend together. Is there more you want to know about this person? Write a letter and ask.