19 September 2014

Who doesn't have a grandma story ?!?!? FamilySearch is collecting them starting tomorrow ...

Elsie (Taylor) (Fountain) Paine, 1999 -- the last time I saw her
Copyright Diane L Richard

FamilySearch is launching a campaign tomorrow to collect stories about grandmothers (see the full announcement below).

I did not interact much with either of my grandmothers – my maternal one lived in England and my paternal one in Virginia (though it might as well have been England).  We lived in Connecticut.

Their personalities could not have been more different.  One was quite tolerant in many regards and the other quite critical.  I wish I could say that I have fond memories of both, and if I dig deeply enough, that is true.  I did enjoy some good times with both and I can say that I learned lessons from both.  From my paternal grandmother I learned more about the person I didn’t want to be and from my maternal grandmother I learned, as a teenager, to trust who I was.

Though I only saw my maternal grandmother about every 7 years (I don’t know if this is exactly true and I remember in high school figuring out that frequency of visits).  Thank goodness she lived into her 90s (as did my paternal grandmother) and a few months before she died I was fortunate to travel to England (via Bern Switzerland where my husband was working at the time) with my children (6 and 8) so that they could all meet (laughingly enough, she first met my daughter when she was 1, 7years before!).  My daughter still remembers this trip and though we only spent 1 day with her great grandmother, she left a lasting impression on my daughter.

Her most lasting impression on me was as a teenager. She came over to visit here (I can still picture a photo taken of her standing by a lake – which I cannot seem to find at the moment) and while in town she took over my room.  I don’t remember where I slept.  My bed had a headboard and footboard and she was always hitting her legs against the footboard and cursing it in a very understated British way with a smile.  When she was leaving, she left me with a little wrought iron candle holder (which I still have in my shoebox, literally a shoe box, which is all besides clothes that I took when I left for college and then the rest of my life) and she shared a version of the following with me.

She said that she “knew” that I was always being blamed for things that I had not done and to not take to heart that my mother was critical of my nerdish & dreamy ways (obviously not the word an English grandmother would say and you get the gist).  It still brings tears to my eyes, over 40 years later, to just remember the “strength” that she gave me to be myself, regardless of others.  My grandmother “got me.” She didn’t find me lacking.  She understood why I kept a low profile (she obviously had shared my closet and had seen my personal artwork and other things stored there that I would never have shared with the rest of my family as they would have made fun of me, based on enough past experience) and she respected me for that.

My grandmother, in a couple of sentences, helped empower me to remain strong to who I was and would become.  She helped give me the strength to live life on my own terms, to be who I am ....

That is my ONE story about my grandmother ... what is yours?


SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—If you could share ONE story about your grandma, what would it be? That’s the question nonprofit FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) is nudging people worldwide to respond to as part of its worldwide #meetmygrandma social media campaign, September 20-30.

FamilySearch announced the campaign today, seeking 10,000 stories in 10 days to kick off the global initiative where descendants are invited to share and preserve online or through a mobile app the fond memories or stories about their grandmothers’ charms or idiosyncrasies. Find out more at FamilySearch.org/MeetMyGrandma.

“Heart-warming experiences with a beloved grandmother are at the heart of many fond memories from our formative years, or even adulthood,” said Brad Lowder, International Marketing Director for #MeetMyGrandma campaign. “All you have to do is ask a person to share a special memory about their grandmother, and they immediately wax sentimental as they recount a heartfelt story or wise saying they cherish from a grandmother. We want to encourage people to capture for future generations those stories that make their grandmothers so special.”

FamilySearch.org offers a free international service for families to share their family histories, memories, photos, and historic documents online and preserve them for future generations. If you are fortunate to have a grandma still living, the free FamilySearch Memories mobile app (IOS only for now) allows individuals to audio record their grandmother and save those recordings online. And there are 20 fun questions to ask your grandma to help write and preserve her personal history in her own words online.

“The #meetmygrandma campaign encourages families to have fun as each member of the family shares their personal perspectives of what makes their grandmothers so special to them,” added Lowder. Their stories, and those contributed by other family members and relatives, are saved to a dynamic online profile dedicated specifically to their grandma, along with any photos and digital artifacts submitted.
One youth contributor wrote, “Grandma Ella likes to Fly. Age 80 isn’t too old to fly. She discovered she loves jumping out of airplanes. Now I know where I get my adventurous personality.” He included a picture of her skydiving with her coach. Another woman tells how her grandmother suffered for 20 long painful years from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and other illnesses, but still managed to run a successful business from her bed.

The launch of the initiative runs from September 20–30, but the campaign will run indefinitely. Go to FamilySearch.org/meetmygrandma for more information.

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