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Preserving Family History for National Grandparents Day

Capturing precious memories, family recipes and legends from grandparents can be easy and fun.

Grandparents frequently are the keepers of precious family memories, recipes and legends. With National Grandparents Day on Sept. 9, why not celebrate by visiting a grandparent and capturing some life history and wisdom for future generations?

Marlborough, and most of the North East, has a storied history that goes back generations. It is getting at that story that can take time but ultimately provides a path to the past that cannot be gained anywhere else.

Bloomington, IL grandparent and tutor Rona Chumbook is focused on making her mother’s last wish come true by writing her memoir of raising six kids in the French Alps during WWII. The task is slow going and Chumbook regrets not capturing more information while her mother was alive.

Counselor Paul Zohav, of Bellevue, WA, served as the former chaplain in the Philadelphia Geriatric Center and the community chaplain for Jewish Family Services of Greater Harrisburg. Through his experience, Zohav learned grandparents are the bridge between the generations that came before them and those to follow.

“They often have answers from wisdom acquired from a lifetime of learning that can help someone not yet born,” says Zohav. 

But capturing this information to preserve it for future generations is often a challenge. Some families try to preserve family history by interviewing a grandparent on camera. Others give blank journals or “memory books” to grandparents.

Inspired by years serving elderly patients and watching families struggle to capture memories and remain deeply connected through several generations, Zohav created The Life Book. The book is a binder system of pages designed to prompt and capture memories and wisdom that grandparents can work on by themselves or with their children and grandchildren. The book also holds photos, important documents and even helps grandparents with the daunting task of downsizing to a smaller home or an assisted living facility.

Zohav says that too often grandparents also have challenges connecting with the younger generation. The book offers intergenerational conversation starters, such as, “What do you wish you knew then that you know now?”

Zohav says the task of sharing a life story can be overwhelming, but with some support from family and friends, a grandparent's legacy can be passed down to generations to come.

“You don’t have to do it all at once, just get started before it is too late,” said Zohav. 

TELL US: What is something you and your family would like to share with future generations? Document it by telling us in the comments below.

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