There’s so much I don’t know about the life of my father, my mother, my grandparents, my uncles, and other family members. Some of them are gone and have taken all their stories with them, but some of them are still around.
Only know do I realize how precious some of these stories are to me. I want to know more about their lives, especially about my grandparents’ lives, but none of them are around anymore. I recently came across this post on HN where someone shared that he interviewed his father before he died, and how glad he was to learn more about his life.
And it reminded me that I once wanted to do this: To interview those relatives of mine that are still around and learn more about their lives, to even record these interviews so that they could be passed on for future generations, if maybe one day, just like me, they’d be curious to learn more about the past of their ancestors. I even did begin to interview my grandmother just weeks before she died, and I’m glad I did. Back then, she was still in pretty good health, and her death came unexpectedly.
Here are some questions I’d ask my family members:
- What’s the first thing you remember in life?
- What was your most beautiful memory as a kid?
- What was your worst memory as a kid?
- How were you as a child?
- What did you want to become when you were a child?
- What did you love to do as a kid?
- What did you like about your mom/dad?
- What was your favorite food as a child?
- What was the house/apartment you grew up in like?
- Who was your best friend when you were a kid? How did you get to know them? What do you remember about them?
- Who was the oldest family member you remember?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- Who was your favorite teacher in school?
- Did you do any sports? What was your favorite kind of sport?
- What were some games you played as a kid?
- Did you have a favorite toy?
- Did your family go on vacation?
- What did you do on the weekend?
- What was your first job?
- What jobs did you do in your life?
- Who was your first love?
- How did you feel when you found out that you’d become a parent?
- What was the funniest thing you remember your children did when they were little?
- What was the most challenging part about raising kids?
- What advice would you give your children when it comes to being a parent?
- Can you tell me about the different members of your family? What were they like? Describe their personalities.
- Did any of your family members play music or sing?
- What stories do you remember from your childhood?
- What did your parents work?
- What was your favorite song?
- How old where you when you moved out of your family’s home?
- How did you choose your profession?
- What attracted you to your partner?
- How long did you date before you got married?
- Have you ever been in an accident?
- Have you ever been a victim of crime?
- Have you ever committed a crime?
- What were some inventions that really fascinated you and blew your mind when you first saw them?
- How different is the world now compared to when you were a child?
- What was the hardest decision you had to make in your life?
- What’s the most incredible or magical thing that happened to you?
- Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back in time?
- If you could tell your 10-year-old self something, what would you tell them?
- Is there anything you see in me that you think comes from you or another member of our family?
I think there’s real value in getting to know our ancestors. So much of who we are is not just a result of the experiences, conditioning, and our own independent thinking, but also nature and even the passing on of traits and thought patterns through generations, many of them even unbeknownst to ourselves. It’s part of the process of becoming more self-aware.