Blog Repost from November 26, 2013
I have lost so many close friends and family members in the past 22 months…including my mother, my best friend of 37 years and my college roommate.
It made me realize that people die with so many stories untold.
I wanted to know more about my mother’s life and reasons for her not wanting to disclose the stories of her life. I forgot to ask my Mum what it was like living in England for three years without her babies! How did she manage sexual abstinence for 3 years at the young age of 27…or did she do, as others in her nursing school did, seek intimacy with other women.
I forget to ask my Dad why he enlisted in the RAF to support WWII and what the experience was like. Things I wanted to know were not shared or I did not ask.
I was discussing this issue with a friend who had recently lost her partner and she shared the poem below penned by her son.
“I was young and now I am old,
Here I sit a story untold.
Some days good and some days bad,
They passed so fast, more I wish I had.
Who will know and who will remember,
My story untold as my life nears December.
The young they dance, they sing and play,
I did that myself what seems like yesterday.
As life ends what is to come,
Is there more or is it done.
Remember me young or forget me old,
Yet here I sit a story untold.”
I was so moved by the poem, I asked my friend‘s son permission to include it in a blog post. He agreed and went on to share the reason for writing the poem.
“I wrote that poem after playing outside with my 5 yr old daughter. It made me remember being 5 years old myself (I am 37). It made me reflect on how little I really knew about my grandparents and great grandparents…. about their character and their lives before I was born. Often all we have is a handful of memories or stories that other people share about such individuals. Can you imagine your entire life being summed up for someone else in a few short stories? It made me contemplate writing “my story”…just in case my kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren (if I ever have any) would know a little more about me… not for my benefit, but for theirs or just to satisfy their curiosity.
Also, while playing with my daughter, I reflected on how it is too easy to view elderly people as nothing more than just that…. an old individual, somewhat one dimensional or seemingly disconnected from the current happenings in the world….in spite of the lives they have led, for better or worse and all that occurred for them over the years (their life “story”). It also made me reflect on how I will be just “one of those old people” someday in someone else’s eyes. When such people see me as an elderly individual sitting quietly alone, will they realize I was once a 37 year old man playing on a grassy hill with my daughter, a 23 year old marrying a woman he loves, a 19 year old living life hard and fast to the fullest, a 13 year old kissing his girlfriend for the first time or a 5 year old playing on grassy hill himself fully engaged in the moment? I doubt it. All they will see is an old man…a story untold.
When I wrote that poem I wrote it outside of myself in a sense. I thought of an elderly man setting in a chair alone, in his living room or perhaps in his 10 x 15 room within a “retirement community”. I thought of how many people just pass him by, not even considering all that he has been through…the ways in which he has seen the world change, the wars he may have fought, the people he loved, the children he may have loved or lost, his failure, his vices, his sin, love, sacrifice and regret. How easy it is to forget that such an individual has a “life story”…a story that for the most part, for most of us will probably go untold and be known by few people at best. I don’t so much think this is tragic, but just the way life is. However, I think it is good not only for individuals to share their life story, but also for individuals to hear it.
Beyond that, I’m not sure why I wrote that poem. The poem literally took less than a few minutes to write. It just kinda came out that way given all the things I was thinking. I sent it to my Mom since she recently lost her partner”
As we prepare to spend time with our loved ones this holiday season, remember to ask about those untold stories before it’s too late, and while you are at it…write your own story. Have a joyful and peaceful holiday season.