Last week I was asked to speak at a Library luncheon to a group of ladies that were primarily readers of books. I knew a number of those women personally and at different ocassions had spent some very interesting times conversing with them.
Several of these women often related very fascinating stories of their past. Many of them were of European descent and some were survivers of the war. They had sometimes horrendous, sometimes fantastic, sometimes unbelievably miraculous stories to relate about dealing with fear, hardship, survival, and eventual escape from those conditions. Most of us born and raised here in Canada could not imagine, much less empathize, with the conditions they described. Yet these women related their stories without bitterness or malice, simply stating their facts as they had happened, just happy that that life was over and they were now free and safe. Those days were merely their past! - done - but not forgotten.
Those of us listening, were thoroughly engrossed. In fact many of us were mesmerized by their fortitude, their courage, their perseverence and their determination to find a better life for themselves and for their families. They had left a land that had failed them, a race that had forsaken them and a dream that had turned dark and empty.
These women (and I realize there were men in these same circumstances too), came to a new country where they knew and understood no one, where they had no knowledge of the customs, the traditions, the expections, or even the mores of the different ethnic peoples they were forced to live among. They faced near starvation and frigid temperatures in a primitive land that often offered limited shelter, no conveniences and no assistance except that of thoughtful and kind strangers, who neither spoke nor understood their language yet displayed a humane heart. Yet they persevered and made a good life for themselves and their families in spite of all the adversities, contributing unobtrusively to the success of their new country and ultimately their own families.
Yet there is a sad anticlimax here. Their stories, irregardless how fascinating, end with them. When I suggested they write them down, for future generations, they dismissed the idea because "no one would be interested". Several others and I protested that the stories were not only interesting but intrigueing, but still the women said that they could write them down. They said the were not computer literate, did not type, and and could not possibly write it all down in longhand. Therfore, those stories would die with them. Such a pity. Such a waste.
I have another suggestion to those who have stories to tell. Buy a voice activated tape recorder. They can be purchaced for under $50.00. Record your stories and someday someone will transcribe them. Such treasures are far too prescious to bury!