Tips from the Pros: He Said, She Said, from D.G. Fulford

Each person’s story is distinctly her own. There is the collective experience, and then there is your experience–same scene, different takes. A husband and wife working on a family history project may find themselves, for the first time in years, not speaking in the “we.”
Our mother wrote her history, our father spoke his. Their individual stories converge, then dip in and out of one another’s the way dolphins swim.
A brother’s stories may not be the same as his sister’s. You may not remember things precisely the same way someone else does, even if they were there at the time. Don’t bother arguing about who is right and who is “righter.” Every single person has his own reaction to time and circumstance, his own telescope through the distance. Your vantage point has less to do with where you’re standing than where you’re coming from.

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5 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: He Said, She Said, from D.G. Fulford

  1. I found this to be true. Mom and Dad remembered totally different on their dates and wedding. My kids remember childhood totally different than we parents did and none of the children remember it the same. Some times I wondered what family raised my kids! They are in their late 20’s to early 40’s and I know when my syblings get together we remember it fairly the same with some variation. Best to write it down now. At least your memories will be there.

  2. What I found to be interesting are the things I remember from my childhood that my parents never even remembered–and the things my children remember, often painfully, that totally skipped me. Kind of makes it difficult to see the world, or one’s life, in black and white….

  3. I have also found this to be true. I just now emailed my brother and asked him to search his memory for things our grandpa talked to him about regarding his childhood–my grandparents live right next door and my brother was always with my grandpa learning how to build and do carpentry–however he says they never talked about the past. I did talk with my grandma however alot and am glad I’m the journalist of the family and the keeper of all pictures and ephemera otherwise our family history would be lost.

  4. The “He Said, She Said” article is a good reminder for all of us. I’ve often been so concerned when another family member’s information about a certain person or event didn’t match up with the “real story” that I thought I was so sure about. I’m learning more to accept the other family member’s recollection simply for what it is: it is that person’s memory at this point in time about people who may have lived long ago or about events that happened “way back”. And the various viewpoints often do help to give a more complete picture of our family’s history. When a death occurred in my husband’s family a few years ago, I observed that each person in the family had a different response and experienced the loss in a different way – perhaps depending on their individual relationship with the person who had passed away.

  5. This article put a lot of memories and recent arguments into perspective. How many of us told stories of “what happened when ….” and had ourself challenged. My sister is most adiment when she says “that did not happen!” Recently a wife of a first cousin said discretely, “I don’t remember that” and later said’ “Bob is the family story teller and his son, Dev is the next generation of the family story teller”. I at that time remembered my mother challenging me as a child asking me if I “was storying to her” meaning was I lying? So nice to find an article that gives a plausable explanation to the differences in the same story from different members of the family.

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