Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Interviewing Elsie: tender times

DearREADERS,
This is a particularly tender time ~ visiting here in Bradenton, Florida with my friend Elsie who now lives in an assisted living facility. This afternoon Barb, Mr. Myrt and I met with Elsie and it is obvious I've got to switch gears when it comes to doing our book about Elsie's Red Cross and civilian US Army employment during WWII.

At 92, Elsie has some memory loss, as do many folks her age. Though our visit was obviously tiring for her, Elsie was as ever, supportive and positive.

To say today's visit was emotional for me would be an understatement.

Thinking about this during the drive back to our friend Jody's condo, it occurs to me that many of my DearREADERS are facing just such challenges. Attempting to follow the advice to interview your eldest living relatives can get complicated can't it? Elsie is like family to me. Good friends are like that.

Where once we could work quickly together on a project, things have slowed down and there is no rushing the process with wonderful, elderly folks like Elsie. Advice from Kimberly Powell of About.com is found in 50 Questions for Family History Interviews. Indeed, Ol' Myrt here has written many times on the topic. But this interview process is real and personal, and I find myself at a bit of a loss as to where to begin without pushing Elsie to the limits of her memory.

And the emotion of recognizing how short our time together for the project, really brings me to tears.

I'm resolved to create a timeline of Elsie's life when we visit tomorrow. Much can be gleaned from the spines of her notebooks, which are clearly labeled England 1944-1945, France, Japan & Korea. If that is all I can accomplish tomorrow, so be it.

Tenderness will be my watchword.

As experienced as Ol' Myrt here may think she is when it comes to talking with anyone about anything, this visit with my dear friend Elsie is a tender challenge.

How did my DearREADERs manage such tender interviews?

Am I just getting to be an old sap?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com