Take an old letter, add some photographs, and create a place for family to share stories.
The storyteller who wrote this letter just happened to be my mother; she was 76 at the time. She’s writing about her ancestors to her granddaughter, my eldest niece, and rolling out stories about people only she had ever met and about stories that had been passed down to her.
My mother knew the stories needed (and wanted) to be shared. She was very clear about writing things down, to make sure the history didn’t get lost. But her sharing techniques were, limited.
Instead of engaging with me or one of my siblings, she decided that my niece would be the recipient of this knowledge, sixteen at the time and perhaps not really at the point in her life where family stories or what came before her had any relevance or importance. So, along with a family tree created by my mother’s cousin, some old family photos, and the letter she invited my niece to take part, to seek out the answers hidden in plain sight.
I believe her motivation was to inspire my niece to look to her ancestors for teenage guidance and internal strength, as grandmothers sometimes do.
I doubt that my niece ever answered any of the questions, but she kept that letter for 25 years. Now in her early 40s, with me giving her a gentle nudge, she’s interested in sharing — and adding to—our family story. Now that letter has relevance.
Stories aren’t actually hiding at all — sharing them is just a game of hide and seek
This letter, typewritten in 1996, complete with pencilled-in typo corrections, is a part of the story. In digital form, it gives my photographs context. It may not be my mother’s audible voice, but it is most definitely her visual voice.
This letter is my mother through and through, it sounds just like her, and is an incredible addition to my growing Ponga family album. The addition of more letters is something I am looking forward to.
Transcribing the letter was an definitely an option, but isn’t it so much better to share it in its original form, allow my family to see it in real time, even hold it in their hands if they want?
I certainly believe so.
Victoria grew up in Montreal, Canada. Following high school, she studied Fine Arts. She then became a small business owner for fifteen years, while raising two children. During this period, Victoria followed an interest in the Internet sensation taking several courses on HTML and got involved in a successful start—up company.
Victoria migrated to Australia in the early 2000s. Working in business administration, mostly at the upper management levels, and studying SEO, receiving a certificate in SEO & Marketing, and further expanded her natural abilities in this area.
Storytelling and writing have always been a passion of Victoria’s. She’s completed numerous writing courses, and had several articles published in a variety of Australian blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Short stories, travel, and family history being her go to topics. She is currently working on her memoir.
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