Sunday May 13th is Mother’s Day this year. Each year a day is set aside for us to honor and remember our mothers and our grandmothers. As you contemplate writing your life story, your mother and grandmother will play an important part in it. I had the opportunity to interview my mother a few years ago and learned some things about her I never would have guessed! It was exciting to learn things I never knew before. As I write my own history, I can now include those stories about her.
Your life story must include your mother!
If your Mom is still alive ask her about her life. If she has passed away ask her siblings (your aunts and uncles), if they are still alive. Use the following list of topics to help you write about your Mom:
- Where did she grow up?
- What was her childhood like?
If you have heard stories about your mother, write them down. Where and when was your mother born? If you are like me, your mom was a child during the Depression (1930s). For many of us the “Depression” was nothing more than a thing we heard about in history class. If your mom is still alive have her tell you about life during that time. How much more exciting it would be as you hear about this from her.
Maybe she was a child of the sixties. Was she a “hippy?” She probably has some interesting stories.
Think how interesting her story will be to your children and grandchildren. In many cases the stories you write about your mother might be the only ones they hear!
Ask your mom about her school memories
- Where did she go to elementary school?
- How different was her elementary school years than yours?
- What was your mother like in high school?
Ask your mom about her childhood
Whenever I interview someone in the course of writing their life history, I always spend a good length of time talking about their mother.
The following excerpt is from a woman living in Chicago:
My mother was born in June 1895 in Messina [Sicily] and came here to the U.S. as a very small child, probably preschool age. During WWI, her family was forced to return to Italy for some years until after the war. When they returned to the United States, my mother lived at home with her mother and her older brothers. I recall her telling me that all the “boys” turned their paychecks over to their mother who was head of the family.
Another example is from a fellow I interviewed a few years ago who talked about his mother:
My mother was one of the people that got polio. When I was about nine or ten years old, she had to go into the hospital. It never did go to her lungs, but it affected her back and her arm. I remember when she went to the hospital in the summer, she said, “I am going to be home by October.” She was quite paralyzed on her left side.
Mom used to take us over to the creek to swim, and we would go on hikes. She had fun at the expense of housekeeping. Sometimes the house got kind of ramshackle, and then we’d all have to go through and blitz the house to get it all cleaned up.
Describe your mother
- What did your mother look like? Can you describe her?
- As you think back on your mother, how do you remember her — heavy or thin?
- Do you have photographs of your mother?
A gentleman I interviewed a number of years ago remembered his mother this way:
My mother was small with black curly hair. She was very pretty. She had that black curly hair until she died, it never turned grey. My mother did not have any scars or anything else she tried to cover up.
She did all the cooking, and she was a great cook. We always had big tables of food. Her brother, would bring his family for dinner. We always had wine for dinner. Macaroni was my favorite thing she made. We always had macaroni with meatballs and sausage.
Write stories that can characterize your mother.
Write about her personality. Was she a happy person or melancholy, given to fits of depression, or did she have a temper and did you ever feel her wrath.?
One of the many things I can remember about my mother was her determination. She never graduated from college. When she married my dad, she dropped out of college (Indiana University). When I was in high school, I remember my Mom taking night classes, with a firm determination to graduate. It seemed like she was going to night school forever. Eventually she did graduate and I remember we all attended her commencement where she finally received her degree. I will never forget her determination.
Be sure to make your mother a part of your life story!