300 Questions to Ask Your Parents before It's Too Late
Horizon (an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.), 2011
Reviewed by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury for the Association for Mormon Letters
This book is more than what the title promises. While it is great for
asking your parents questions about their lives and memories, it is a resource
for so much more.
The questions in this book are intended to help us go deeper than just
where our parents went to school or what their favorite foods were when they
were children. They are arranged in seven sections:
What I Learned from My Youth
The Wisdom I Gained from My Family Life
My Views on Marriage, Relationships, and Love
The People and Things that Influenced My Life
My Philosophy about the World
My Beliefs about Spirituality and Religion
What I Want You to Know
These are things that can help us and our descendants really get to know our
loved ones. As the author encourages in the introduction:
"Do not let those great lessons and bits of wisdom from your parents be
forgotten. More often than not, old family stories and great experiences
are lost forever because they are not written down. Because of this, most
of us live without a sense of deep roots. We know little about our parents
and what they learned in life. We all have camcorders and scrapbooks to
record special occasions in our lives, but the photographs and videotapes
cannot tell what we felt, how a moment changed us, or why it matters."
But this book is more than a list of questions that can look into the
lives of our parents and other loved ones still around to ask. This book
is a guideline for us to provide the same kinds of information about
ourselves, our own lives and thoughts and turning points. As the author
urges, also in the introduction:
"Fill the pages of this book with all the thoughts you want your
children to learn from you. When you're done with this book, you will
hold in your hands a marvelous keepsake filled with memories, wisdom,
stories, opinions, and feelings that made up every step of your life.
You will be able to say, 'This is all my wisdom. This is my story--my
legacy to my children.'"
We are directed, as members of the LDS Church, to write our own life
histories, and all too often, we shrug our shoulders and say something
like, "I don't know where to start." This little book is the perfect
way to go about it. As a genealogist, I am so excited by the approach
given and the questions offered. And as the daughter of a man who loved
history, but didn't get around to finishing his personal history before
he died, I can even use these questions to call to mind the things he
taught me, so that I can share his wisdom with my children and
grandchildren, even though he's no longer around for them to know.
I join with the author in urging people everywhere to get a copy of this
book and begin recording the answers from yourself as well as your loved
ones. It will be one of the greatest and most valuable investments you
can ever make.