This is a guest post by Maggie Mora of Storyhouse.
There is the grandfather from my childhood; diligent and uncompromising, gruff yet kind. When he died 9 years ago, I knew him only in these terms—adjectives collected from occasional visits and grainy phone calls.
The grandfather of my adulthood looks much different; he is pieced together from stories told over dinner tables and fading photos salvaged from trips back to his home in California. Most of his grandchildren are left arranging him from fragments he left behind. Like many, I regret not asking about my grandfather’s stories while he was still alive so, in honor of Grandparent’s Day (Sept. 11th), we’re suggesting three ways you can preserve your grandparents’ legacy.
1. Record their story. If your grandparents are still alive, this would be the perfect opportunity to capture their stories. If they have passed away, sit down with a parent, aunt, uncle, or other family member and record their memories of your grandparent using a phone or recording device.
We recommend downloading the Storycorps app. In addition to providing you with questions and helping you record audio, the app will upload your finished recording to the Library of Congress archives to be accessed by the public and preserved for future generations. If you’re looking for a deeper-dive into their stories, our team at Storyhouse would be honored to help create a video story to capture the essence of your loved one.
2. Make an altar for your home. Traditionally used to recognize the deceased for celebrations like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, altars can be kept up all year round as a way to remember a loved one. To create your own, find a special corner in your home and arrange a selection of photos and favorite knickknacks or mementos. Storyhouse founder Kathryn Gonzales keeps an altar in her home honoring her grandmother and Mr. Brooks, a former neighbor of hers who passed away several years ago and served as the igniting inspiration behind Storyhouse.
3. Create a legacy book. For a recent client project, the Storyhouse team created a legacy book for the daughters of Gene Grigassy. Before he passed away several years ago, one of Gene’s daughters had interviewed him and saved the audio recording. Using the original recording as well as interviews from surviving relatives and family photos, the Storyhouse team created a 100-page book documenting Gene’s legacy. Copies of the finished book were given to his daughters who shared them with other family members, including their own children who never had the chance to meet their grandfather. Should you be able to interview your grandparents-great! If not, you could always create a similar book comprised of your own memories of your grandparents.