As the Executive Director at Silver Comet Village, it has been both my honor and my pleasure to plant the seeds and nurture our village culture. In speaking with and observing hundreds of residents over the years, I have learned that residents who feel a sense of purpose and a connection to others tend to enjoy life more than those who feel lonely and helpless.
I believe one of the simplest ways that we can meet those needs is to help people tell their personal stories as a way to connect with their loved ones with the gift of their own life story.
What’s in a Story?
Growing up, I enjoyed hearing the stories told by my grandparents and great-grandparents. I vividly remember my grandmother telling me about going horseback riding with her childhood sweetheart, Charles. Or, how she wanted to start nursing school at the age of 17, but her parents would not sign the permission paperwork, so she had to wait until she turned 18 years old. My grandmother told vivid stories of their travels around the country, and then around the world, when my grandfather was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force.
My other grandmother told stories of living in Cuba briefly while her father worked installing a refrigeration system there, and that is where she learned to love avocados. My great-grandmother was a storyteller by nature, but a published author and poet by trade. While she was alive, I received a birthday poem every year.
As I think back on the stories they told, I feel a sense of connection as if they were still here with me. I have passed on some of these stories to my son, and, while he never got a chance to know them, he has a sense of who he came from.
If I have one regret, it is not that I have more wealth or “things,” it is that I cannot remember all the stories. I have old pictures, but I can no longer remember the people in them because they were around long before I was. I also cannot remember the legacy stories of how my family came to settle where they did, and what brought them there.
Silver Comet Village Wants to Share Your Story
Working with the older aging population, I hear their stories in rich detail, daily. Sometimes it is spontaneous when something happens, and it reminds them of a moment in the past and out comes the story. Other times it is prompted; during a recent Silver Comet Village happy-hour, I asked those in attendance what their most interesting job was. The responses were delightful in their uniqueness and how each person lit up as they fondly remembered a time in their life.
It is the stories that matter. While heirlooms are great to pass on to future generations (and often come with a story), and certainly inheritance is luxury welcomed by those on the receiving end, the one thing that can never be regained once lost, are the stories.
Silver Comet Village recognizes the unique opportunity that we have to help our residents tell their stories. That is why we will be embarking on a rich endeavor of collecting those stories and compiling them in a way that each resident will have a priceless legacy to gift to their loved ones.
As part of our mission in helping people tell their stories, we will post a new story prompt every month that will help you and your elder loved ones tell their stories. It is my sincere hope that people will share their stories not only with their families but with us as well. We love a good story!