Remembering our Loved Ones: What would you ask?
Most of us have had someone close to us pass away. Occasionally there’s something sensory or tangible we have to remember them by, other times we have only our memories. My grandpa passed away when I was nine, but I have a CD (made from a tape recording) of a fireside he did for his posterity. It means so much to me now to listen to it with my adult perspective.
My father is seriously ill. My dad’s doctor has prepared him with about a year to live. Right now he feels OK, but I know over time his energy will deteriorate.
We have a special bond, he and I. Although I usually consider my parents’ home a strictly patriarchal one, he raised me nearly identically to my two older brothers, encouraging me in my aptitude for math and science. He suggested I become an engineer like him, and when I instead turned to English, he suggested that I would make a good technical writer (my current profession). These gifts of encouragement and praise make me want to take advantage of the time we have now, while he still feels relatively well, to create those things I want to remember him by.
I like my grandpa’s CD because the audio medium very much appeals to me. I hear a lot of a personality in vocal inflections, and I’m more likely to listen to a CD than watch a video. My MiL suggested that I interview my dad for NPR’s StoryCorps. Unfortunately, I missed the travelling StoryCorps van at my city by a matter of weeks, but going to their site has got me started on a list of some good questions I want to ask my dad as we create the audio recording I will to use to remember him. It may not get archived in the Library of Congress, but it will reamin with me, which is what’s important.
My current list is 40 questions long, but here are a few of them:
- What is your favorite memory of me?
- How do you think you and I are similar?
- Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
- Do you remember any of the bedtime stories you used to tell me? Can you describe them now?
- Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence of your life? Tell me about them.
- How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
- How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
- What were your parents like?
- What was it like to have your mother pass away while you were away on a mission?
- What was it like to be a child during the start of the cold war?
- What do you enjoy most about hiking in nature?
- Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
- What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
- What do you think the afterlife will be like?
- What would you like to say when you meet God?
- Can you tell me about your illness?
- Do you look at your life differently now than before you were diagnosed?
- If you were to give advice to me or children to come in our family, what would it be?
- What have you learned from life? The most important things?
- How do you want to be remembered?
I want to ask you, what would you want to know from your parents, grandparents, and close loved ones? What questions would you ask? If you could now ask one thing of someone who has departed, what would it be? If you had only limited time to spend with someone you loved, what would you do to make sure you remember them?