Never too old for grandma's stories

Growing up, I loved listening to my grandmother's stories - an eclectic mix of folk tales, mythology, tales about her life and family. She is a gifted story teller and when she enters story mode, her audience of young kids and adults alike are thoroughly drawn into the experience - listening attentively, sharing laughs, astonishment and scares (my grandmother loves the horror genre, much to the chagrin of the parents).

For the last fifteen or so years, I moved to a different country and have lived quite far away from my family. My interactions with my grandmother reduced to monthly phone calls and yearly visits. Our phone calls were simple check-ins, with similar patterns - my grandmother advising me to eat more or get married; and me enquiring about my grandmother's health, tv shows or daily routine.

Yesterday, I broke that pattern. When we were about to be done with our usual check-in and when my grandma was advising me to have babies soon, I changed course and asked her about when she had her first kid and how old she was (she was 20). We continued chatting for an hour about how she got married, the first time she met my grandfather, then about her family and her 11 siblings, the fun times and some hard times. We both had a really fun conversation and shared many laughs. It reminded me of my childhood days and reminded my grandmother of many fond memories. The stories also were a welcome distraction, relief, perspective to help with a stressful month.

Our grandparents have a wealth of life stories that can give us all very different perspectives from our regular lives. These stories are fascinating lessons in history, culture, society, your family - narrated from first-hand experiences - a truly unique experience that a lot of us are fortunate to have access to.

Don't wait to ask your grandparents (and parents) for their stories. Ask them about their childhood, their school life, their wedding, their time as parents and as workers, their difficult times and most cherished memories. Both of you will enjoy and benefit from it.