My Grandfather’s Story: in parts

One of my regular readers, currentdescendent, is doing a great project that I wanted to share with you, a multi-part story about her grandfather. Luanne has been blessed with an interview with her grandfather that was done about five years before he passed away. She has taken this interview and broken it up into short parts and then expanded on the interview with stories, photos and memories of her own. Great job Luanne!


The Family Kalamazoo

In 1994, five and a half years before he passed away, my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, was interviewed by Connie Jo Bowman, the head of residents at Crossroads Village, a retirement community in Portage, Michigan. Connie was taking a course about the elderly at Western Michigan University and chose Grandpa as her subject.  I’ve written about Grandpa in a post about our left-handed connection.

The entire interview is eight typed pages, so I’ll divide it among a few blog posts.

Connie begins by introducing my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg.  To read the excerpts of Connie’s report, you can click them for a better view (I hope):

Connie identifies my grandfather here as a “tall, gentle dutchman with a big friendly voice.” That would probably be how Grandpa thought of himself. He identified strongly with his Dutch heritage.  He had a lot of jokes, but one of his favorites was to say, “If…

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When He Was Young

My nephew had to do a school report recently and decided to do his presentation on his grandpa. His main source of information ended up being a book I did in 2006 about my dad’s childhood. This was the first history type book that I did which with a non-traditional look. No white pages with lots of text and a few photos. I enlisted the help of my niece Kimberli to do some illustrations. She was just starting her artistic training and she tried to do a different style than she was really comfortable so the quality of the drawings is inconsistent but the illustrations still add to the book. It was a learning experience for both of us.

One of my main goals with this project was to make it a more approachable history to read for all ages. And I think that it was at least partly successful with that since Jacob was able to use it for his school report. Now he knows something more about his grandpa that he can probably relate to in more ways. My dad had a kind of interesting childhood growing up in the days of prohibition in a suburb of Chicago.

While I’m sure I would do somethings differently if I was starting this project today, I still think it is a pretty good example of what can be done when you don’t have tons of information or lots of photos. I’m hoping that it will inspire someone in how they can tell one of their family’s stories.



Book of the Week – “Grandmum”

As I was looking for this weeks book and trying to decide which one I wanted to share, I came across this book, “Grandmum.” And new that it was the right book. This is what the author, Jennifer Glantz said about her book:

The book came to life from the fact of my love for my grandma. She’s really very important to me. She’s my best friend, my mentor and the one I can talk to about absolutely everything.She has been my neighbour for the past 22 years, my entire life. I moved away from home for studies about 2 years ago. Since then I have missed being able to walk over to her house and talk with her everyday.

One weekend when I came home for a short visit the two of us sat down together and looked at some old photos of her and the people that have been important to her in her life. It was a wonderful feeling to see these photos while she told me the history behind them. There and then I realised and saw the real life she had lived. The people, circumstances and surroundings that have formed her into the wonderful woman she is today. I saw the people that once had lived with here, the people that she had loved, they who not live anymore. So there I sat, realising that this is what life is about. Memories. Her memories and those pictures is as close I can come to being there with her, when the photos was taken, some of them almost 80 years old.
So here it is, my book about my best friend, my mentor, my great Grandma.

What a labor of love. What a very doable project. She did a great job of sharing the story of her grandmother your her choice of photos and the order she put them in. The simple format works great. Do you have someone who you could do a book like this for?



Gift Idea #9 – Write a Song

If you have the desire and/or the talent writing a song about your family or an ancestor would be a powerful gift to give your loved ones. Music is so amazing in its ability to tell a story, share emotions and connect people. I love music but I’ve never tried to write a song. I hope that one day I will be inspired to take on a project like that.

Below are two videos about a woman who, after searching and finding her great grandmother Emma, is inspired to write a beautiful song about her experience. The first video is only about 5 minutes long and the second one, an episode of BYUtv’s The Generations Project, follows her in more detail on her journey. It ends with her singing the song she wrote to honor Emma.

Searching for Emma

The Generations Project – Maile