Senior Scene: Our Family Stories

Serene Karplus, Our Family Stories

I wish I had known my grandparents. Eager to create a sizeable distance between their parents and their kids, my parents placed an ocean and thousands of miles between the elders and our insular little family unit. I am told I met my grandfathers as a toddler, but both were deceased by the age of memory. I met my grandmothers a few times.

But I never heard their stories. I never heard them talk about what they enjoyed as a child, where they lived, who their parents were, what they did with their lives. I only know a little of their history from my parents, who see them through the filter of the parent/child relationship they never really outgrew. The family genealogists know more about my grandparents than I.

Many of those who came before us had no time to write journals and personal memoirs. Their lives were busy with the tasks of living now made more convenient and efficient for us by modern machinery. Or they were of a generation that felt that indulging in writing personal stories was arrogant. Telling stories to their children or grandchildren may have been acceptable. We may be the only ones alive who know their stories. It is up to us now to record the stories we heard that will be gone forever when we pass on.

Maybe our kids or grandkids lead busy lives right now and won’t sit still long enough to listen to our stories. That does not mean that a day won’t come when they yearn to learn about us or those we loved in generations past. Our younger generation may be the age we are now before they take the time to stop and remember us, to wish they had known us better. Maybe a great grandchild or great niece we never met will be curious to know more. Why not leave a legacy of family stories and history for that possible day when someone wants to know them?

People only live on after they are gone in the hearts and minds of those who remain behind. Photos of people from the past are meaningless without their stories. If we take the memories and stories with us and do not share them with future generations, then our family history dies with us.

Our Nederland Area Seniors writing group meets twice a month to write our stories. We write short snippets, often a single event or situation based on a topic prompt the group has agreed upon. Recently, we discussed the urgency of recording not only our own stories, but the stories of our ancestors known nowhere else but in our own memories.

At our writing group meeting on Wednesday, May 28, we will bring in stories we recall of the generations before us. This group is a casual, social group and we welcome everyone to join us. Writing experience is not required and we do not judge quality or critique work. We just share and encourage each other.

Honor past family generations this Memorial Day between barbecue picnics with some reflective time to jot down their stories. Take some time now to pull up some memories. We welcome you to read aloud for our typical sharing time of five minutes at our meeting that week. Please call us at 303-258-0799 for further information.


Everyone is invited to the Nederland Area Seniors luncheon at the Nederland Community Center at noon. A donation of $4 is requested from those over 60 years of age and $8.25 all others, but no seniors are turned away due to inability to pay. Please make reservations by 4 p. m. Friday for Monday lunch and 4 p.m. Monday for Wednesday lunch, at 303-258-0799.

Monday, May 19: Roast Pork w Cabbage/Apples, Green Beans, Potato/Roll, Fruit

Wednesday, May 21: Turkey Sandwich on Rye, Asparagus Soup, Carrot Raisin Salad, Applesauce

Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.