As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that there are a lot of things about my extended family that I don’t know. Being the oldest child of my grandparents’ youngest daughter and the fifth of seven grandkids leaves a lot of room for little family facts to slip by. Just this weekend, I finally learned how I was related to someone I have heard about my entire life. Before then, I never fully understood why we planted flowers at their gravesite each Memorial Day.
As these little bits of information come out about people in my life, I’ve realized that I didn’t know many details about my mom and dad’s lives before I was born. I’ve heard a few college stories here and there and stories with messages in them that pertain to my current stage of life, but I didn’t feel like I knew who they were.
Luckily, with a little convincing and the promise of taking her out to lunch, my mom agreed to participate in Homesteaders’ brand-new video series based on the Have the Talk of a Lifetime® campaign from the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC).
Through their consumer awareness campaign, FAMIC provides resources to funeral professionals to help community members from all over the country sit down with their families and talk. With a tagline like, “Life. There’s a lot to talk about,” it’s no wonder their resources are bringing families together from all walks of life.
For this video series, we focused on FAMIC’s Have the Talk of a Lifetime® conversation card deck, which features 50 thought-inspiring questions aimed at getting to the heart of life’s most meaningful experiences. My mom and I had the chance to answer the question, “What event(s) in our nation’s history had an impact on you and how?” My mom’s immediate answer surprised me. She said that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, impacted her the most. She discussed how she found out about the attacks and how the aftermath affected our family when we traveled to Disney World three months later.
Since I was in elementary school when it happened, I didn’t truly understand the event until I was much older. Even so, we had never talked about why that moment in American history had impacted both of us so much. I had no idea that there was a reason that Disney World was so empty or that my dad, who works in safety and security, was on high alert during the entire vacation.
My mom is a strong lady. Not much can rattle her or my dad. However, one thing that she said during the video will stick with me: “That day, I just needed everyone to be close.”
Since starting this project, my parents and I have taken on a few other questions from the deck as well. I feel as though I’m learning more about who they are as people, instead of just as parents. Since I started at Homesteaders, I have been much more open to discussing end-of-life wishes with my family, and these cards are just an extension of learning about how my parents want to be remembered when they’re gone.
The Have the Talk of a Lifetime® videos are available on our website. Make sure to bookmark that page and check back often, because we will be releasing a new video with a new question once a month.