The first anniversary of my mother’s death is March 4. In her memory I’m launching my new business, Life Stories to Connect the Generations. You can read about it on the page tab in the tool bar.
I’ve thought about doing this for years. In 2004 I created a brochure and registered the name, “Connecting the Generations.” Now I need to do it again since I changed the name slightly. I started to launch it last year, but I wasn’t ready so soon after mom’s death. But now her taxes and the last of the bills are paid, and the only thing that remains between me and closure is the trip to California to bury her ashes.
I always loved the stories my mother told me about the family, except for the last few years when the stories became repetitive. But often new details would emerge, so I would listen and write on the back of envelopes if I was caught off-guard and hadn’t brought a notebook.
There were times I felt emotionally bludgeoned each time she told the story of my father’s death and that it happened, “Just when things were getting good.” That meant she had finally fallen in love with him after a 20-year relationship and a year after my birth, and then he died. But I was a faithful transcriber, interviewing her for the first time in the early 1980s when she lived in Oregon.
My father’s sister, Aunt Marge, was the Goudey/Porter family historian and recorded my grandfather’s life story. He was born in Port Maitland, Nova Scotia on New Year’s Day, 1881 and died in California, Memorial Day, 1982, outliving his son by 34 years. My cousin took Grandpa Goudey’s ashes up in a helicopter and scattered them over the Pacific Ocean, a fitting memorial. My grandfather’s written and recorded story are among my treasures and inspires me to help others tell their stories. My Aunt Ethel, my father’s youngest sister, still lives in Southern California and we will visit her in April to hear more of her stories. She is 96.
I feel called to do this work. It’s no accident I went back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in journalism, that I’ve been a photographer for most of my life, that I love and have experience interviewing, writing, editing, photographing and laying out a narrative and photos to tell a story.
In interviews, I will ask questions and listen, drawing out the story. I will either write the story from a journalistic perspective in third person, or in the story teller’s voice in a straight narrative, using identified photos to round out the story.
In a Webinar recently I heard the speaker say, “Get speaking engagements when you want to sell your business.” A writer friend arranged for me to meet the vice president of the local LDS genealogical society the day after I told her I was launching my business. He asked me to speak to the society members for 45 minutes in May. This is a huge first for me, since my speaking engagements usually consist of a 30-second elevator speech in front of a networking group.
But because I am inspired by past generations and connected to them by their stories, I will speak with confidence.
My mother used to say of her grandmother, Iantha Scoville Tyler, that she was a “cold woman,” and blamed her for the breakup of her parents’ marriage. But I have empathy for Iantha. Her mother, Lydia Wright Scoville, lost six children in ten years, five sons and a daughter, before the age of two, prior to Iantha’s birth on March 20, 1853. A sister was born in 1855 and also survived, Iantha’s father William Holly Scoville, died in 1858, when Iantha was five. Her mother, Lydia died in 1861, leaving Iantha and her younger sister orphans. A great-uncle raised them.
Iantha married my maternal grandfather, Isaac Tyler, in 1874. Their first child, Sarah Theodora, died when she was five. I wondered how scared Iantha was that she would repeat her mother Lydia’s tragic history. But then, like so many women of that era, there was no choice. She went on to have five more living children, including my grandfather, Alva, who I never knew. I’m sure there’s more to this story.
Thanks to my mom, Aunt Marge, my great Aunt Nola Tyler, and other story tellers in my family for inspiring me with all the stories. Although I’m not LDS, my Aunt Marge was and would be happy to know that my first speaking engagement is to an LDS genealogical society. My mother will be happy I dedicate this business to her.