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The experience of ‘interviewing’ a loved one with the help of a from you to me journal can be both enlightening and enjoyable. Our guest blogger, Andrew Eberlin of Eberlin Design tells us how.
Like Neil, my father died far too young. I regret at not asking the right questions, or not spending more time with him. I imagine this is a common reaction for those that lose someone close.
My mother still lives, but is ageing fast. Her short term memory is getting worse, but I can still see flashes of Mum in her prime. It is now almost too late to ask her all the right questions, but I have tried to retrieve some recollections over the last few years.
I have done two things to help this process. One was to drive Mum around all the houses that meant something to her - including the houses she or Dad had lived in; and also the ones that my grandparents and great grandparents lived in. Fortunately, the last three generations of Eberlin's all lived in Nottingham so it was fairly easy!
We drove to Magdala Tennis Club where Mum and Dad first met and she reminisced about his fast serve. We drove to the house where Dad grew up and Mum pointed out the room where she and Dad used to be romantic together (this was the era of John Betjeman; his poem 'A Subaltern's Love Song' starring Joan Hunter Dunn is just how I imagine my Mother and Father were...)
The second thing I did was to give Mum a 'Dear Mum' book in the hope that she would fill it in. Unfortunately she has not and is unlikely to do so now. So, instead, one morning as we were having breakfast, I picked up 'Dear Mum' and started to ask her the questions so that she could talk through the answers. It was illuminating and such a fine way to learn more about her. I admit, that I may have jumped some of the more intimate questions, but it was still a very well spent couple of hours.
Learning about previous generations first hand from the people you love is far more enlightening than reading it in books or watching it on TV. Time passes, lives are busy but it is always worth sparing a few moments to hear a story from the past.