Last night my husband really wanted to start a fire. We live in Arizona so February is getting a little warm for fires but the ambiance upgrade can’t be denied. My husband has not only been known to extend the fire season but he tends to want to jumpstart it as well. I remember one year opening all of the doors and windows in November in order to cool the house down enough to kick off fire season. Not the most energy efficient option but certainly memorable!
When something is important to us, like building a fire is to Bob, often times there are stories to explain the affinity. In Bob’s case, his grandmother had a love of fires also. Every Christmas it was imperative to her to have a big roaring fire regardless of the weather. One Christmas, when Bob was about 10 years old, he was granted the fire-making responsibilities. This was a big deal! His grandmother was both figuratively and literally passing the torch. However, before she handed him the ceremonial match, she relayed a story that was a part of her history. You see, when she was growing up, one of her favorite uncles performed the fire starting duties. He would carefully construct the fire and tell a story to the kids while he was doing it. And while he was her favorite uncle, she also shared with Bob that this uncle was “kind of slow.” Bob went from being elated at earning the responsibility of “head fire starter” to wondering whether he had actually assumed the position set aside for the one “who was a little slow.”
We laugh about this story often; it regularly comes up when the extended family gathers. It certainly sparks conversation about Gigi (Bob’s grandmother). She was quite a character and so very beloved. I wish there was a way to turn back time and capture her life story on audio. Her family was one of the first to settle the Phoenix Valley. I can only imagine the harsh conditions back then and the adventures she faced.
The fire-starter story is one of those stories that I’ll be sure to note as part of Bob’s personal history. It’s not just the big achievements and monumental accomplishments that make a person who they are. It’s the little things. It’s the cute stories, the strange coincidences, and the oddball misfortunes.
Here’s something you can do today to preserve these precious stories - make a list of these anecdotes. You don’t have to write the story or record the story today, just jot down some of the topics you’d like to include. That way, when you are ready to tell your story or that of a loved one, you’ll have a place to start. Or, if you hire a personal historian to help you, this list is a very helpful way to begin planning the narrative. Most personal historians, myself included, will conduct a complimentary meeting with you before starting the project. During this meeting, we’ll discuss what you want included.
At the end of the day, it’s your essence or that of a loved one that needs to be preserved. So don't overlook the little things because it's often the little things that revel the bigger story.