|My great-grandpa trained horses for Ringling Bros.|
One of the coolest things about being last born, and a late-in-life child, was having my parents to myself as they entered late middle age and became obsessed with legacy. I loved hearing the colorful stories of my grandmother meeting Boris Karloff when he did the Vaudeville circuit because the family boarding house was a usual stop for Vaudeville troupes. How my grandfather lost so much weight in dental school because he had to eat lunch in the anatomy lab, where formaldehyde-soaked cadavers lay partly dissected.
But I equally cherished hearing how harsh my paternal grandfather was and why my maternal grandparents divorced when my mom was seven. These stories are far more deeply important because they explained so much about who my parents had become, why my dad was such a softie, why my mom was terrified of drunk people.
That I was so steeped in family lore in my teens and early twenties surely shaped my sensibilities as a writer. Because it made clear to me that the past doesn't stay in the past. It always has implications for the present and future.
I'm guest posting at Tessa's blog, and when she asked what I hope readers will take away from my novel Never Gone, this is one the points I emphasized:
"Getting to know your parents’ stories is an essential part of growing up the relationship. It’s easy to misjudge them when you don’t know what struggles, hardships and heartbreaks they’ve endured, and how those things have shaped them."
You can read more of my interview with Tessa Emily Hall HERE.
Do you know your parents' stories? How might learning family history help you better understand family members and their interpersonal dynamics?
photo credit: keyseeker at morguefile.com