Story Telling

Last week I took a few vacation days. During my time away from the office, I spent some time with my mom and in-laws. For years I had asked my parents and in-laws to record stories about their life so my children would have the benefits of knowing about their ancestors. My dad died four years ago without recording a single story.

So last week I started bugging my mom and in-laws to tell me stories about their life and about what they could remember about their parents and grandparents. The conversations started slowly and then the dyke broke loose and the stories started rolling off their tongue. It was so fun and interesting to hear my 89-year old mom tell very detailed stories and see her eyes light up. You could just see her as 18-year old puling pranks on her mom. My 85-year old father-in-law, after about a two hour session, told me that talking about his past made him feel like he was a teenager again.

While I had heard some of these stories before, it was so much fun seeing them so animated. Needless to say I am going to keep bugging my family for more stories. I have a feeling it will not be as hard to get them tell me more of their family and personal stories now. It is amazing what we can learn if we simply show interest and listen.


Story telling is art. Storytelling was expanded into the art of the traveling troubadour, who journeyed across the land. They were welcomed in castle, court, and market place. They gathered the news, conveyed the best tales, and were expected to know the favorites in each region. The invention of movable type and the development of the print publishing business led to reading replacing listening, and the decline of storytelling.------------------Marvin Kansas Treatment Centers

Steve, this is something i wish i had done with my grandfather-he was in world world two and then worked at the pentagon and the CIA for years after that. I bet he had amazing stories! thankfully, i have some recordings of my grandmother talking about her experience growing up during the dust bowl in nebraska. Those stories are the very definition of priceless; our world will never look like it did my grandparents were growing up. Thank you for motivating me to go home and grab that tape recorder and visit my grandma to get more of those priceless stories. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!Kendraps i didn't get a chance to comment on your previous blog about refreshing one's mind and spirit, but its hanging on my printer at work so i can see it every day. This is something that is such a struggle for social workers to take time for and not feel guilty for valuing. having a positive and healthy mental health is not only important to me, but hugely benefits the population i serve. Thanks for the reminder and the never ending inspiration!!! You are a true teacher to those of us in direct service.

You are also a great story teller. I very much value the input of the aging population. They are the best educators because they have survived through very trying and exciting times in our history. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and taking the time to empower and learn from those you love.

Steve,Thank you for such an inspiring post! Sometimes I wish that my parents had a blog/journal about their lives before I was born and when they raised me when I was young. You are right that it's always easy to get them start sharing stories when we show interest, ask questions, and listen. I remember the time when I spent a thanksgiving with your family, and had the chance of meeting your father. He was so friendly and funny, and his jokes made everybody at the table laugh!Shuang

SteveCongratulations on starting an oral history of your family. I wish that I had gotten my paternal's grandmothers stories of coming by boat alone from Moravia pregnant with my father & with my uncle. She went through Ellis Island. My grandfather had come early to find a job & a place to live. Unfortunately, I was only 8 when she died. I do have her immigration papers, photos & other important items that she brought with her. Don't forget this special memoriablia. Have fun! Sue Svec

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.