“My mother worked on a highly secret military project during the Second World War, as my father flew Spitfires overhead and headed into battle.”
“I’m a descendant of the Duke of Northumberland (‘on the wrong side of the sheets’, as they say), or so I’ve been led to believe.”
“My grandmother had a shipbuilding empire stolen from her. It was an extensive operation in the north-east of England, and a scam artist duped her and broke her heart, or so I’ve heard.”
“My uncle was on the Atlantic convoys during the war, and three ships he was on were torpedoed and sunk by German U-boats. He survived. Just.”
“I had a half-sister that I didn’t know existed until I was forty. She died three months after I met her for the first time. We never had the chance to really talk.”
“I’m pretty sure I was on the last ferry across to Manly that they think the Japanese midget submarine snuck under to avoid the boom gates.”
“I know so little about all these things. It’s too late to quiz my mother, my father, pursue my lineage, sit down with my grandmother and uncle and listen, and talk to my half-sister. It’s too late for anything and I deeply regret it.”
For some inexplicable reason, we believe that the people we love are going to be around forever. And then they’re gone, with everything they could have said. If only someone had talked to them, sat down and taken the time to hear their stories. But, we were too busy and self-absorbed to listen to the oldies back then, and we’re killing it now, aren’t we?
During the December holidays, families get together, many managing to put down their devices and talk to one another. This December (and it’s not too far away), resolve to listen rather than talk. Find out more about the people who’ve lived in a different era and did thing quite differently. You might be surprised at what you discover.
If you have any difficulty with your search for the facts, the experts of Life Stories Australia are here to help … before it’s too late. Contact Paul at Life Stories Australia at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you save your family stories this Christmas. It might just be the best Christmas present you ever gave or received.
Just one last word: if we meet, a small curtsy or a short bow from the waist will suffice.
Michael Collins, LSA Foundation Board Member