I have times in my life where I stop and say, “Wow, this time last year I was …” Of course Facebook nudges people along that path from time-to-time by posting memories “only you can see.” And there are major events that shape us in such a way we forever recognize the date as an anniversary.
I had one of those moments this week. You see, this time last year I was living in Kosovo. I was teaching fourth grade and this week, this very week one year ago, I went with friends to the celebration of Kosovo’s ten-year anniversary as a nation.
As part of our work in social studies, my fourth graders interviewed people who lived in the region “before the war,” “during the war,” and “after the war.” They interviewed people about what it was like when Kosovo declared independence and the day they officially became a nation. They could do that. I can’t go back and interview people in 1786 about America’s birth as a nation ten years out.
My students talked with people who lived in the area when it was known as Yugoslavia. They talked with people who lived there through the war years and with others who moved elsewhere during the war, leaving loved ones behind and not knowing if they ever would return. They talked with their parents who were just coming of age when the tiny country raised its flag for the first time.
Some of my students recorded their grandparents talking about their lives. From personal experience I know those recordings and the perspectives their elders have will be treasured.
So why am I posting this now? I’m a writer. I know the power of “story.” When we’re in the midst of living it, we don’t always recognize the power of our own life experiences.
Last week, my youngest daughter needed help with childcare one day. My mother went with me so she could spend some time with two of her eight great grandchildren. They call her GG. It stands for Great Grandmother.
GG and five-year-old Jo were snuggled together and visiting while we waited for Jo’s sister to come home from school.
Jo said, “GG. You’re a great, great, great grandma.”
“Well, no, I’m a great grandma,” GG said. “I am your mommy’s grandma and your great grandma. When you grow up and have a little girl, then I will be her great, great grandma.”
Jo thought about it for a minute, “But you’ll be died by then, GG.”
We’ve laughed about it. But the truth is this, our own personal history slips away from us. I want to encourage my readers to write down your story. What events shaped you into the person you are today? Where were you ten years ago? Or even five years ago?
Where were you this time last year?