We must catch up.
My grandfather is back in the hospital, or he has been in the hospital for a few days and when we know the exact cause of his symptoms, we can decide how to proceed with his healing. Until then, we wait. When he was admitted to the hospital a few weeks ago, my mind turned to a conversation I had with him a year ago. As we sat at the lunch table on the enclosed back sunroom of my grandparents’ house, and he told stories of all the things he’s seen and experienced in his lifetime thus far, he remarked that in recent years, more and more people encourage him to write his life stories. He is not sure if he has the patience to sit and write.
Sometimes, silver threads unfurl right in front of our eyes and we are idiots not to take hold of them.
The Greatest Generation, you see, lived a whole lot more than most of us do, and have a level of mental toughness to which you and I can only aspire. Couple just a generation characteristic with his personal inclination to understand the world around him and so intentionally stop to consider moments and actions and there is quite a life story waiting to be shared.
And, about a year ago, as he told me about this, I suggested to him that audio recording equipment to record conversations just like these becomes transcribed by literary granddaughters and he thought that was a fine idea. That way, he could just sit and talk without typos or rereading and thus censoring himself. So, we decided to take a little time and get some equipment together.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when he was first hospitalized, I worried I would fail his stories, or worse, I’d fail him. He wasn’t strong enough, nor probably in any mood post-surgery for me to show up and shove podcasting equipment in his face and lob questions at him about the 1930s and 40s, so I stuffed my own fear away and waited for a thumbs up.
I don’t yet have that thumbs up, so I decided this weekend, as I walked through the Detroit airport to my connecting flight, that getting his stories was a very big priority. No, correction. I didn’t decide it was a priority, I realized how big a priority it has always been.
So, soon, I’ll head Louisiana way with some audio equipment and my grandfather and I will talk for several days and I’ll hopefully ask all the right questions and a recording of his voice telling his life story as he remembers it will exist and I’ll have, with any luck, not only not failed him but will have honored him in the process.