In a week from now, I will be visiting my mom’s home town, New Orleans, Louisiana. It will be the first time I’ve been there in almost 20 years. In 1996, I drove from my home near Charlotte, NC, with my then 6-year-old son, to attend the funeral of my 90-year-old Grandmother. We called her Mamaw Robertson. She had lived a full and very interesting life, most of which I know nothing about. Yet.
When my husband and I drive from our hotel over to Metairie, we will be visiting my now 88-year-old aunt. I will be 62 in July, and the rest of my siblings are aging after me. It’s time to go “home” and find out who my Mamaw really was.
Not just the older woman I remember from my youth and young adulthood, but the little girl, the young wife and mother.
We will look at pictures and I will listen to my aunt telling my family stories. I’m glad I didn’t wait too late.
I waited too late for my Mamaw to tell me her stories.
That’s our job, you know. To keep alive the voices of the past, and inform the voices of the future. To carry on the Flag of family.
To keep it real.
I write because I can do other. I will tell those stories to my son. While I am here to tell them.
Give him my memories of childhood, being his mom, being a writer, being a daughter and sister.
We all need to do this. Even if you are not a writer or a teller of stories as such, tell your children, tell your nieces, nephews, cousins, whoever will listen.
So that the voices of our family now gone will no longer be silent.
Tell the stories. And be ready for your turn.
Family is more than any writing career. Family trumps everything. Even life.