How It Started
Welcome to Returning Time. I’m so glad you’re here. My name is Lauren, and I wanted to share with you a little more about how this all got started. The best place to do that is to start with when I was born:
I was born in a small town in Central California as the first granddaughter on both sides of my family. When I was born I had six (yes, six) very eager grandparents. Of my great-grandparents, six of eight were still alive to meet me. I was very loved (and spoiled) with plenty of grandparents and great-grandparents to watch over me. And some of my happiest memories involved spending time with each of them.
Special Distinct Memories
Growing up, I didn’t live too far from most of my grandparents; Most of them lived within a thirty-mile radius of me which meant a lot of one-on-one time with them. And each of them I have very special memories with: Sewing quilts with my Grandma Marlene in her attic sewing space, spending summers “teaching” my beanie babies in my Grandma Linda’s classroom, watching my Grandpa Jerry do woodworking in his shop, and going to historical reenactments and vacation trips with my Papa Fred.
As I get older, I realize that these memories are ingrained into who I am and reflect in the things I love and enjoy. But I don’t think that I would have realized how much I was like my grandparents if they weren’t still with us today. They each have incredible stories that I love to listen to. Their stories and the stories of their parents and grandparents inspire me everyday.
Retelling Their Stories
At the end of the day, however, I am just one person, and many of these stories I heard when I was a young child and some of the facts are a little foggy. Although I wish that I had the memory of an elephant, I do not. I also have a lot - and I mean a lot - of family members who I know either have not heard these stories or would like to have some way to keep them. As the oldest granddaughter on both sides of my family, and the one who seems to be most interested in doing so, I knew that this was a very important project for me to take on. Especially while I still had the time with them to do so.
Chance of a Lifetime
One of the factors that played into my decision to start this project was because of the rarity of the opportunity in front of me: I am twenty-eight years old and each and every one of my grandparents is still living. I do not think there are many twenty-eight-year-olds who can say that. And if they do, some may not have a relationship with each of them or their health has deteriorated. I don’t know why I was given this chance, but the older I got the more I knew I had to take this opportunity and take it soon. There’s only so long that I will be able to do this. And I hope that it will encourage others to do the same for those they love that are still in their lives.
Age Does Not Determine Our Value
I think it has been a long standing thing in history to compare generations, or to have an ongoing battle between one generation and the next. But one of the things that I really cannot stand about modern culture is the divisiveness between generations. Now, I’m a “Millennial” and much of the battles currently ensuing on the internet seem to be between millennials and the next generation, “GenZ.” But for a long while, many millennials were just as guilty for shaming the Baby Boomer generation and “Gen X,” and perpetuating the “Ok, Boomer” mindset.
I may be way off base as far as modern culture goes and how it all went down. But I can’t help but think about the effect this has had on the older generations’ motivation to tell their stories, and the younger generations’ willingness to listen. I believe that all generations, when given the opportunity to be heard, can give incredible value to the other and a different perspective on life, or at least provide a connection of empathy between them. Sure, technology is different, our daily lives may be different, but at the end of the day, we share as humans some of the most basic emotions and motivations for our lives, regardless of time and space. Even the youngest of us can provide value to someone who is older than them, since each holds a unique perspective and viewpoint of the world.
Encouraging Others to Tell Their Story
While I will be sharing the stories of my grandparents, my hope and goal is that it will encourage others to tell theirs or to record the stories of their loved ones. While each person is unique, their life story may have something powerful and valuable to someone else who may be experiencing the same thing. I often think about how siblings can grow up with the same exact parents and - in some cases - the same traumas. Yet their lives end up taking such a different trajectory from one another. While the time period, people, and circumstances may be different, tragedy is something all humans experience at some point in their lives. Hearing stories of those who have overcome tragedy (regardless of age) may help someone else in need, or provide inspiration or encouragement for the path of healing they are on. At least that is my hope. But time - sweet time - is always of the essence.
When I thought about the name of this podcast, I knew that time was going to be important, in more than one way. Not only were we exploring the stories of the past, I also have very precious time to do so. My goal is to hopefully have the opportunity to interview each of my grandparents. But just like everyone else in this world, I am not promised anything and can only make do with the time I am given, not knowing when that will be.
I also knew with the name that I wanted it to encompass all of my grandparents. I could have made a special podcast and blog for each of them, but again - time is not on my side here. But one thing that each of them did for me, especially at a young age, was give me their time. They babysat me, they spoiled me, they loved me, they took a million pictures of me (seriously, I do not think there are more photos taken of a single child ever), and they involved me in the things that they love. I really couldn't have asked for better grandparents and a better life as a child. I always felt safe and cared for wherever I went, which is something I know that many cannot say. And I understand and appreciate that about my life. I do not take that feeling for granted.
As I thought about the time that my grandparents gave me, I decided the best thing I could do - and the thing they would probably love most - is to give that time back to them. Really, I couldn’t begin to repay them, but I know what I can do to start is to spend time with them, learn about their lives, and listen to the stories I heard as a child and appreciate them even more now as an adult. I decided to start with my Papa, Fred, who is the unofficial historian of his side of the family.
About a year ago, just before the lockdowns of March 2020 hit, I had started on this project with my Papa so it was easy to pick up where we left off using Zoom. Not only can he tell you most of the people in the pictures that fill his attic space, but he also just has an incredible memory and a love for history and ancestry that I definitely inherited. I am actually very fortunate that a couple of my grandparents have that love for history and ancestry, but with a history of dementia on my Papa’s side, I wanted to start as soon as possible, especially because I think he has the most to recall and remember, and those things are not yet written down or recorded.
He is so intelligent and sharp, and he just loves to share about his heritage. He loves talking about his family and sharing his perspective but yet he is very unassuming and humble. He loves all of his grandchildren (there’s quite a few of us) and I remember how happy he was to find out he was going to be around to see his first great-grandchild - my daughter - who is now six. I’m really excited to share this journey with my uncles, mom, cousins, sisters, and eventually my daughter. It is a lot of pressure but I’m so happy we will always have something of my Papa to read and listen to, even when he is gone.
Join the Journey
So I hope that you will be able to join me as I embark on this journey to the past. I may be biased but I think my grandparents are pretty incredible and have wonderful life stories to share with others. I hope that they may bring value and joy to your life or encourage you to return time to a loved one of yours, or to even share your own stories. Age does not determine your value, and you have important stories to share, if you are willing. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy my journey of returning time to some of the most important people in my life. Take care.
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About the Author
Lauren is a writer and business woman from the California Central Valley. Returning Time is a tribute to her grandparents and those loved ones who have passed on. She retells their stories here and on the Returning Time podcast.
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