Keeping the memory of late family members alive 46



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A recent item on Starts at 60 celebrated the writer’s grandmother and what that wonderful representative of an older generation had taught her.

I’ve been thinking about a grandmother too, my children’s – my mother-in-law, Noeline. She passed away seven years ago at 88, having lived a full and interesting life. She had six grandchildren, and subsequently seven great-grandchildren, only a few of whom ever met her.

My older grandson was only three when Noeline left us and for quite some time he was able to talk about his Nanee, with a clear memory of her. He would talk about the time Nanee fell over at his brother’s birthday party in the park, or about Nanee and her friend Bob doing something or other.

But, very recently, I mentioned her to him. Among my collection of decks of cards are some that used to belong to Noeline my grandsons and I use the packs playing Cribbage and other games. I talked about the cards having belonged to Nanee, and my now 10 year old grandson looked puzzled.

“ŒDo you remember Nanee?” I asked him.


“ŒGrandad’s mother. You know, Nanee”.

No. How about Nanee-and-Bob? Alas not.

I remember my own mother talking with great fondness about her maternal grandmother. She was an unusual woman, having been to university in an era when it was most unusual for women to study further. My mum talked about her grandma’s knowledge of the Greek and Latin roots of words; her farming husband must have been befuddled by her sometimes. I never knew that great-grandmother, nor my mother’s parents in fact. My mother would say, Œ”My grandma is still alive in my memory and as long as some of you remember my stories about her, she’s still alive”.

I feel as though I’ve let my grandsons down, not helping them remember their great grandmother, their Nanee, better. I’m planning to find some photos of her and to start talking about her again.

As I get older myself, I’m more and more aware of the slippage of memory. My siblings and I can have different memories of a family event in the past. I’m a little afraid I guess that my grandsons might not remember me! I’m healthy and plan to live a long time, mind you!

Is this a feeling that’s common among us as we age? Are you conscious of deliberately talking about people and places and events in the past just so they will be remembered?

Fran Goodey

Frances Goodey is the mother of four daughters and the grandmother of two primary school age boys. With six brothers and two sisters, she was raised in Sydney and later lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Brisbane. She is an avid reader and has had some small success with children's stories being published in New Zealand and Australia. Both she and her husband are retired, and her daughters live in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Sydney and Frankfurt.

  1. Great idea. My mom used to tell stories and details of her life as a child, which now I am putting together with photos, mementos and memories in a book, as I am concerned that memories fade. It will be my legacy to the younger generation as there will be a time when they will want to know more about the family and there won’t be anybody to tell them. There are great programs on the internet that give you a template to make the books and then publish them.

  2. Great idea. My grandkids won’t even remember their uncle’s or grandmother unless we as a family do this.

    2 REPLY
    • Of course they wont it is also invaluable to speak of any illnesses that they may have had ….such as diabetes or gall bladder problems or heart problems….so that when a doctor asks about your family health you at least have some idea. You know the question i am sure”is there a family history of???”.

    • My brother died if a aneurysm and my other brother died of empyhasemia. So I struggle that ionm n line for one of these family history.

  3. My dad died when I had my first baby. They were both brought up with photos……..and funny stories. They are doing the same with their kids……it really works well.
    Even the youngest child can recognise by photos.

  4. My parents constantly talked of family both living and passed on. This has given me a great and much cherished knowledge of those who went before. My husband’s family did not do this and he knows next to nothing about his family.

  5. I try to do just that. My husband died last September and I often speak of him with all my family members, especially his adored grandchildren .

  6. Yes I do! My parents and brother died before my kids were born but I speak about them, who they were, what they were like and I think my kids have an idea and knowledge of their family tree

  7. I try to as I am a family buff, I will talk about my parents who have passed and hopefully ignite some memory that my children have hidden in the back of their minds. It quite often works and we laugh so then they pass it on to their children when we get the album out.

  8. I’m still alive! But 2 of my granddaughters don’t give a damn!

    4 REPLY
    • I know that feeling . 3 of our children don’t give a damn . Long story but all started after my husband and I married 14 years ago. His kids don’t like me, my daughter doesn’t like him. They were al brought up to respect people, but alas it has all gone astray. Everything is about them. They don’t even think about their children and the importance of grandparents

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