Connecting with the older generation - before it's too late

How many times have you spoken to someone who was actually alive during the war? I have known the Hubby's Nan for many years now but I've only ever spoken to her about things that are going on now. She is 83 years old and lives in a care home, she can't get out and about on her own so we visit her occasionally. On our most recent visit we got the boys to ask her a few questions about when she was younger and I have to say it was an amazing conversation. The whole experience made me think that we should spend more time connecting with the older generation before it's too late.

At 83 years old the Hubby's Nan has lived for a long time, she's seen things come and go. She has had children and watched them grow and have children of their own. She has 9 great-grandchildren (at least!) and I'm sure it won't be long until she sees her great-great-grandchildren being born! 

Someone who has lived as long as our Nan has some wonderful stories to tell if only you get them talking. Ask them questions about what life was like. I mean, think about it... There was no TV! There was no internet, no technology. The best tech they had was the wireless. What on earth did they do for entertainment?!?

It's easy to find out.

That's just what we did on our recent visit and I could've sat and listened to her for hours. It all started with LP (8 years old) asking her what it was like living during the war. Well, as you can imagine, she got all excited and started talking about when she was a little girl. 

She told us about living in Stoke-on-Trent during the war and how there had been an unexploded bomb near her home. It was cordoned off with tape but that didn't stop her and her older brother going to investigate. Imagine the excitement of seeing an actual unexploded bomb, the anticipation of seeing something that was causing such havoc around them. She told us how they both crept behind the tape, hiding from guards, because they wanted to get a closer look at the bomb. They were amazed at how big it was, she made a ball shape with her hands in the air (think yoga ball!) and her eyes lit up. When they were spotted by the guard they ran home together and got into lots of trouble but she laughed and said it was worth it because they'd seen a real-life bomb.

Her bomb story led her neatly onto the topic of her uncle, a man who ran a business during the war. She had a black and white photo of him sitting on her set of drawers and pointed him out as she spoke about him. In the photo he stood in his army uniform astride a motorbike, he was smiling. He ran a business charging batteries for the wireless, which meant that his services were in demand. Nan told us how she would help him after school and late into the night. She laughed telling us "one night we helped him count money and he had £900! That was a lot of money back then!". Despite telling us her uncle had died in service during the war she was still able to smile and tell us he was a lovely man.

After that she started telling us about how the American soldiers would walk around the streets of Stoke-on-Trent handing out candy to the children. And how, one time, her and her best friend (who she is still best friends with today!) were chatting amongst themselves about one particular American soldier, who happened to have a lady on each arm, and he heard them and responded. They darted away, running home as fast as they could go! That really made me giggle because listening to her and seeing her smile was truly amazing. She was totally reliving it.

I'm sure she could've talked for hours about this stuff but unfortunately we had to leave, and to be honest I was sorry to go. I wanted to hear more of her stories, I wanted to talk to her about what it was like for her growing up.

Get a genuine glimpse into what life was like all those years ago.

Now that I've seen how much she enjoys talking about that stuff I'm encouraging my boys to ask her questions. Even if it requires a little research on our part I think it is totally worth it. We were able to connect with Nan, she smiled and laughed with us as she told us her stories, and I was touched by them. 

If you have a grandparent who you can talk to about the war I would encourage you to chat to them about what life was like for them.

They have a wonderful perspective.

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