Over the back fence

The Life Log project is all about helping people collect their family stories. The hand-me-down bits of lives and loves and circumstance that are formative and significant. I am firmly of the belief that it is not just the dying that should be recording their story, nor should it be the exclusive domain of those that have a little glimpse of their own mortality, but we should all be doing this.

My parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparent all led lives that contained mysteries that in all likelihood will never be answered and certainly not answered to my satisfaction. My great-grandfather went to fight in a couple of World Wars and though he hated it all, it was the big event in his life. Fighting overseas defending his country defined him. I guess not surprisingly, having watched so many of his friends killed in action or returned as damaged humans.

He was such a delightful old stick. I clearly remember him playing war tunes on his harmonica as he came in from tending his extensive vegetable gardens. I also clearly remember his wife, my great-grandmother, as the head of the household, setting the rules, setting the table and setting the punishment scales too. She was legendary for chasing one of her children down the yard with a bucket of water to tip over him, for swearing in the house. She must have been in her nineties and her son must have been in his seventies and pretty sure he could get away with dropping the B bomb. He was proved wrong on that score and escaped by hopping the back fence which is a pretty fair effort for a bloke in his seventies.

These stories are the stories that make us understand families and the way in which people lived. Without them, much of what we think we know about our ancestors unravels pretty quickly. I would encourage you to put a microphone in front of all of your ageing relatives ASAP. You can do it once a year for the rest of their lives. In the meantime, if you know of anyone that needs the service, check out the website http://www.thelifelogproject.com.au

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