Three of our grandchildren have had Heritage projects this year. It was great for us to talk with them about our parents and grandparents and our growing up years. I appreciate the schools for creating assignments like this that open lines of communication that might not have been there otherwise.
Quinn’s project was quite extensive necessitating emails with cousins and friends who are into genealogy. I even tapped into Ancestry.com. Quinn and I had gone through old pictures last summer and she’d scanned two hundred of them into the computer. (I paid her $11 an hour—minimum wage, right?) Ten of the photos were from a Family Tree project that Jennifer, our daughter, had done in high school way back when. I’d dismantled the Family Tree poster but kept the photos and information about each person.
Quinn’s project was centered around where her ancestors had immigrated from to America. Most of my grandparents came from Russia so that was the country she focused on.
I had to explain that because they were Jewish, some were forced to live in shtetls, Jewish towns away from cities. All my grandparents fled from religious persecution and made their ways to America.
The culmination of Quinn’s project was a Heritage Fair in March. The students put on an hour presentation about their different countries of origin. I was fer klempt, of course, through the whole thing. It was very touching.
Eli’s project involved interviewing me on Skype. He asked me ten or twelve questions about my parents, who are both deceased. One of the questions was: Describe your mother and then your father in three sentences. That was interesting and not easy.
Another question was: If you could tell your parents three things about now, what would you say. I said, “I’d tell them that they have fabulous great-grandchildren who they’d have loved to know, and that they’d be so proud of them. I’d tell them about some of the new inventions—that I’d just texted from an airplane over the Pacific Ocean. I’d tell them about us Skyping! I’d tell them there were problems in the world that they could never have imagined.” After I’d answer his question, Eli would comment and then we’d talk a bit. I doubt I’d ever have told him these things if he hadn’t had the assignment.
Last week our oldest grandson interviewed my husband. Garrett is taking US History and they’ve actually made it through the Fifties and into the Sixties. (My US History classes barely made it past the Industrial Revolution.) Garrett wanted to know what it was really like to grow up in the Fifties.
Garrett also wanted to know if Daddo had served during the Vietnam War so Moe got to tell his Air Force Reserve stories—the ones that are funny and cool.
As I said, it’s been wonderful sharing our experiences with the grandchildren. They seem to like hearing about them, too. Yesterday I took Quinn to lunch and during the conversation I ended up telling her about the time the Black Panthers set Meany on fire when I was teaching there. Her eyes got round with astonishment. I felt a little like Sally Field: Quinn liked my story—she really liked my story!!!
I remember hearing that old people liked to reminisce. It’s true—I’m loving it. And loving the grandchildren for caring to listen!
What wonderful projects to initiate dialogue between the generations. I really enjoyed this.