Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More on sharing your story

In last Friday's devotional post, my husband Ray challenged us to record our jouney of life for the benefit of our children and grandchildren - and can I add even the great-grandchildren? He mentioned the regret the family has of not knowing enough about his own grandmother’s early days. This reminded me so much of this fascinating woman the family remembers with love, awe and yet sometimes are forced to remember also her deep prejudices and mistakes she made over the years.
This is Gram with Ray at his 21st birthday party several years before I met them.
What my husband didn’t mention is that Gram (as our generation called her) had three daughters of her own, so when her first grandson arrived. . .well, let me just say she poured her love out on him in many and varied ways! As over time I got to know this whole wonderful family I became a part of, it is a real credit to the rest of them the way they accepted what she did for him! Not that she neglected the other grandchildren in any way, but it must have been clear “her Raymond” was extra-special in her eyes.

Many years after we were married, one of my darling sister-in-laws told me she and her mother often said they felt sorry for any girl Ray would want to marry! Thankfully, I never had even a hint of that from dear Gram who added me to those she spoilt, even making dresses for me and many welcome clothes over the years for our small children. This is a photo of our daughter and her cousin with “Dorie”. All three are showing some of those dressmaking skills. And she didn’t forget the “men” in her life and made all these fun shirts!

Can you spot Ray? These are Gram/Dorie's two grandsons, two grandson-in-laws and five great-grandsons. The youngest little blond boy became a father himself for the first time a few days ago.
Some of the mistakes Gram had made over the years were nasty ones. (No, not these shirts! I don't think the guys minded too much because they were made with so much love.)

The family doesn’t talk about those mistakes very much. Without knowing more of a person’s upbringing and the hardships encountered along her journey to being the strong, loving person I remember with love and awe, how can we really understand her thinking, her reasons for some of those things she thought and did? The writer in me was able to get her to talk a little one day, and that was when she told me just a couple of her problems and fears as a child growing up on an isolated Australian cattle station (ranch). Her father had a minimum paying job on the station and when her mother became ill after having many children, it was Gram who cared for the family.
She grew up in the sad era of people who vividly remembered attacks by aboriginals on the invaders of their lands. Women on lonely homesteads lived in fear and of course there were dreadful reprisals by the white men after any attacks. Is it any wonder Gram made a disastrous marriage to escape and other mistakes when the country girl became a woman in Sydney? She lived through two world wars and that most certainly also affected her decisions. How I too wish we had encouraged her to talk more about even the most painful times in her life
So, I want to ask some questions.
How honest dare WE be about recording stories of our journey?
We naturally would love our childrens’ children to know about those who went before them, but are there things we are doing and thinking right now we are too ashamed of to dare mention?
Are we prepared to allow God to change us to be the kind of ancestors they can be very proud of – despite our own mistakes along the way?
I can only pray we will be found faithful to how God wants us to live.
If you want to read more about us, our family and writing, do check out my website http://www.mary-hawkins.com/ and especially click on the new blog where Ray will also post more of what I consider are his great mediation moments.


  1. It always makes me uneasy when the current generation judges a previous one by our social mores. Until we've lived through a war or faced eviction and starvation, or seen our children die in an epidemic, we've no right to pass judgement.

  2. So very, very true, Alice! And what can we know of the lack of opportunity some had - and perhaps still have in many places - to know about God's love and redemption. If we have not "walked in another man's shoes" how can we really understand the trauma that hurts faith, turns some away from God while others are turned to Him.

  3. Mary, thought-provoking post! I remember my grandparents talking about the wars and the Great Depression. It can be hard for us to truly understand how difficult life was back then. Thanks for sharing Gram's story :-)

  4. When I think back to what the previous generations have lived through, we've mainly had it pretty easy actually. All our countries have had their crises, some more than others. And the recession has been tough. But when you think back to history, it makes me wonder how many "historical novels" will be written in generations to come re our era.

  5. I don't think we can underestimate the value of the story that we leave for future generations. Until we write things down, we often don't realise how events that happened in the lives of our parents or grandparents have a parallel in our own lives. Deep patterns happen in families and we rarely pick up on them until we begin to write it all down.