Friday, September 6, 2013

Carol’s Living Story

                 I won a raffle prize at the DuPage County Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference in St. Charles, Illinois on February 23, 2013. My prize was a Living Story for the subject of my choosing by Janette Quinn of  In May 2013 I asked her to work with my mother Carol (Koepke) Primas and write her story.
                Janette met with Mom twice to interview and digitally record her memories in her Lombard home.  I provided many family pictures and documents to help stimulate Mom’s memory (she is 82 and still pretty sharp!) for the interviews.  Janette used the family history and photos and also conducted independent research about the places, people, activities and circumstances of Mom’s life. She also encouraged Mom’s own writing about memories and messages she considers to be most important. Finally, Janette melded it all into a book almost 50 pages long.   
                My sisters and I were anxious to hear what Mom had to say.  While I provided old family pictures, my sisters sent her questions they wanted answered and other suggestions.  Even though Dad is no longer with us, there was a lot of his information in the book as well.  Mom and Dad had been married over 50 years when he died and they had a lot of history together.
                We received the final copy a few weeks ago.  It is wonderful!  Mom has read it several times and we have shared it with other family members.   Mom’s brother Dick passed away in 2002.  His children were grateful to hear about his childhood through Mom’s story.  

Dick and Carol c. 1935

                From my perspective, it was a great family bonding experience.  I think Mom may have been a bit more open with an “objective third party” listening and taking notes than she would have been with a daughter.  It stimulated discussions about other family members which never made it into the book.  The younger generations learned about things they might not have otherwise known – like as kids, Mom and Dick jumping on the bed and breaking it.  The Living Story is a great legacy.  We had copies made for all the daughters and there are enough copies each grandchild will have one of their own as well.
                After reading the story, we are already planning additional “chapters”.  It was also noted that while Mom talked about daughters and grandchildren, no mention was made of son-in-laws!  We also decided we would like more pictures – but then we are a picture-oriented family.
                We as a family agree this would be a wonderful experience for all families!  Thank you to ISGS and Janette for this great gift!           

       is a member of the Association of Personal Historians and the Association of Senior Service Providers. Its principal, Janette Quinn, lost both of her parents at ages 55 and 60 to cancer on September 17, 1973 when she was 18. Her personal and corporate mission is to preserve families’ most valuable assets, the stories of elders in their own words, before it’s too late. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Northern Illinois University and an M.S. in management consulting from DePaul University.

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