Five Things You Can Never Recover

A friend in Canada emailed me recently, where he lamented his mother’s recent unexpected death. He, like I, works as a personal historian – a professional who interviews living people about their life stories and preserves them for the future as a family legacy. His sorrow was compounded by the fact that he hadn’t taken time to interview his own mother, because he was busy interviewing other people’s mothers: “I didn’t practice what I preached,” he said.   


I empathised with Tom, having been in the same situation myself. As a young, ‘at home mum’ with two small children, I wasn’t prepared for Mum to drop dead in the shower three weeks after her sixtieth birthday. I foolishly thought that she’d be around forever.


Mulling all of this around in my mind, I recalled a saying I heard many years ago and I repeat it again. 

 

Five Things You Can Never Recover

1.     A stone – after it has been thrown…

2.     A word – after it has been spoken…

3.     An occasion – after it has been missed…

4.     The time – after it has passed…

5.     A person – after they die…

Life stories 3 .jpeg




 

Both my colleague and I missed the boat when it came to unlocking our mothers’ memories about all manner of fascinating facts and stories about their early lives. Both of us feel the poorer for this and wish that both mothers were back here, in the present. so that we could rectify the situation. But, wishing won’t make it happen.


Have you talked to your mother about her childhood and early, pre-married days? She wasn’t always an older grey haired woman, wearing an apron and glasses. As a young girl, what was her dream for the future? What was her first career choice? Perhaps she designed and stitched beautiful wedding gowns, or maybe she was a dancer or singer? Then again, she may have been a kindergarten teacher, a nurse or a radio broadcaster…

Don’t let the weeks slip by without making some time to talk to both of your parents about their lives, before it’s too late. If you are too time poor to interview your parents, why not commission an experienced personal historian to do the job professionally?


Remember – time passes, memories fade... and we take our life stories with us when we go!


Annie Payne, Personal Historian since 1988, History from the Heart, South Australia

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