By Winston Simmonds, Jr.
In the midst of living life, (being born, getting through adolescence, being disciplined, struggling through college, earning a living, developing friendships and falling in love) I really never spent much time thinking about the possibility that Mom and Dad may have gone through many of the same life stages that I did. Mom probably had a favorite band or childhood crush. Dad probably had a secret hiding place or maybe even a life-changing experience. They both may have actually led lives that were pretty interesting at some point before I came on the scene.
Think about it. Aren't there a few personal questions you've been meaning to ask your mom and dad and have never quite gotten around to it? And believe me, there are undoubtedly a few things they haven't recalled in years that they would love to share with you.
Well, there's no time like the present to start asking. Think about how special it would be to have a journal with their personal, handwritten responses to questions like:
"What are your favorite memories of your mother"? "Of your father?"
"Tell me about the first time you met Dad."
"What are your memories of the day I was born?"
"What characteristics do you think we share?"
"As you think about your life so far, what are you most proud of?"
Take it from me, just another 40-something son living miles away from the parents he loves and sometimes takes for granted, do it now. Get their memories in writing. I know it seems like everyone touts the benefits of creating a journal but believe me, this one you'll cherish for many, many years to come. It's so simple to do and I can't tell you how rewarding the overall experience was for me as well as for my parents.
Grab your computer or a pencil and jot down some questions youšve always wanted to ask each of your folks. Give it a little thought. Make some of them fairly general and others a little more specific. Come up with questions concerning their childhood, friends, dreams, accomplishments, dates, pets, even you.
Now, go shopping and get yourself a couple of blank-page journals. Pick a cover that you like or get one with a plain cover and create your own design. Write or paste a different question from your list at the top of each page of the journals. Give one question-filled book to Mom and one to Dad. Check out their reactions as it begins to register that after all these years, their beautiful full-grown "baby" is interested in knowing who they REALLY are, not only as parents, but also as people. Now, wait a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. Probably when you least expect it they'll return to you a book filled with handwritten details of their lives and never-before-expressed feelings on a myriad of subjects.
Create a journal for Grandma and Grandpa too. Youšll get back thoughts, feelings and stories that you and your children will cherish for a lifetime.
See what you've done? You've created wonderfully personal keepsakes - and they're guaranteed to be a lot more fun to read than your family tree.
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