Picking my parents’ brains

I’m going next week to visit my parents in Walla Walla, Washington. I’ve kicked myself over the past year for not asking them more questions (or listening better when they volunteered information) about family lore and ancestors when we were all younger. Their memories aren’t as good as they were twenty years ago, naturally.

When I’m there visiting, I plan to ask a few questions that have come up as I’ve been doing genealogy research this year. I don’t know if they’ll be able to answer them, but I have to ask.

And here’s the tiny thing I’m doing that feels kind of radical. I’m actually writing down the questions, even the small curiosities. I’m not relying on my memory. I’m not going to assume that there will be a natural opportunity to ask these questions. I’m writing them in my notebook and at some point I’m going to pull out that notebook and interview my parents. And the notebook will be handy for writing down their responses.

My parents’ memories aren’t the only ones deteriorating with age. My memory is definitely not what it used to be (I’m 50) and I’m not going to take any chances.

If you’re visiting with family members over the holidays, you might jot down some questions to ask them. I so wish I’d done it years ago!



  1. Jerry Brown says:

    Janine, – I was always curious of about Uncle Crawford’s business – Name – address – type of business. I remember when we visited in 1949ish they lived in a big house (as I recall) does your Mom remember the address of that

    • I’ll add your questions to the list! I bet my mom remembers the address. She remembered her 1940 address when I asked so I could look it up on the census. Crawford’s business was a fuel business. I remember seeing letterhead from it but can’t conjure up the name. But I’ll ask my mom. She’ll probably remember. And then I’ll see if I can find the address.

      Thanks for your interest, Jerry!

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