After all the family happenings of these last few days so much merits reflection. My son Rob, who is an associate professor of media studies (radio) at William Paterson University NJ, announced that he had packed his digital recorder in order to begin an oral history of his parents! Though he stated this intention early in the visit it was only on the last day (actually within the last few hours) that he set up the impressive machine together with its heavy boom microphone fixed on a lightweight tripod. I think both Carol and I were a little nervous and perplexed. How on earth do you describe your past life in 45 minutes. Actually, we only managed the first ten years.
A couple of things happened:
- As to the question How? - it all depended on sharp questions intelligently asked and sensitively followed up. He really is a good interviewer. The time passed very quickly as we gave it our best shot. Carol's birth story, her non-adoption giveaway, her frugal home and upbringing. Living in the same house until she was married, she recalled early years playing with friends in the street, going to school, and special memories of her mother. In contrast, I spelled out my early years in London, followed by idyllic times in Faringdon, Berkshire with village life spilling over with 'Darling Buds of May' stuff (H.E. Bates rosily pictured the Larkin family in the 1950's) followed by brutal experiences in S. Oxford school, followed by a move to Gloucester....all before the age of nine. Surprising memories tumbled out. Really vivid.
- Rob expressed such amazement in hearing about us both. At the end he kept saying: 'I never knew that....I just never knew that!' Of course, why would he? I realize how I never sat down to ask my parents to tell me something of their stories. I really wish I had!
I don't know when we shall next tell some life-stories but it was deeply rewarding for us to look back with gratitude for all that God has given us and how he has led us. How important it is to listen to others stories! And to tell them!