In Case You Were Wondering

#12 – What is the most embarrassing thing
your mother or father ever did to you?

Here’s a resource I wish I’d had earlier: 20 Questions to Ask Your Mother.

#17 – What’s a rule you secretly love to break?

There are questions for grade-schoolers . . .

#7 – What was your favorite movie or book
when you were my age?

. . . and for middle-agers.

#5 – What was the most unexpected compliment
you ever received?

Sadly, my mother is beyond answering these questions now.

#18 – What’s something your friends know about you
that I don’t?

But here’s the thing: I’m not. And if the kids haven’t asked yet, well, maybe some day they’ll wish they had.

#4  – If you could give your younger self some advice,
what would it be?

Wouldn’t it be fun to surprise them as they clear out my stuff?

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14 Responses to In Case You Were Wondering

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    The daily journal that I have kept since 1964 is, I suspect, an attempt to answer question #4. It assumes that at some time in the future (when I, like your mother, am no longer available to answer questions) someone will want to know what I thought about some events in my life or in the world.
    Eventually, those journals will all end up in the Archives of the United Church in B.C.
    But I suspect, in reality, that those journals are a sign of incorrigible egotism — the delusion that anyone will actually care what I thought, once upon a time.

    Jim T

    • barbara carlson says:

      Yes, it’s that question of looming irrelevance as we age… My own 40-year journal (60 volumes) has now been whittled down (by me) to 18 volumes over
      2-1/2 years. It was great fun, reliving an extraordinary life. Glad I kept such a detailed account before my past faded away by the bleach of time…
      But 1964 — goodness. At what age were you? Do you still keep it?
      Do you feel that knowing you’d be writing about your day make you pay more attention? I sure did. It also saved my language skills which were fading. (But I only started my tome in 1982 when I turned 40 and my self-obsession finally began to turn to self-awareness.)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I think it’s great for researchers to be able to get insight into the personal level of world events. And the (very) few bits we have in writing from folks in our family chain are a delight. A name becomes a person.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    The list of questions is excellent!

    There’s one (not on the list) I’d like to ask her: “You loved to play cards. Why, then, did you often feign not knowing the game very well?” The reason I’d like to ask her that is because, in spite of the pretense of not knowing the game very well, her name was often at the top of the score sheet when the game ended.


    • barbara carlson says:

      It’s a woman thing I bet… back then — men didn’t like too-smart women.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Was there money involved? I’d like some different questions, too – but even more would like to have had the wit to ask when I could.

  3. barbara carlson says:

    Around the tea-table when we had a “salon” of studio visitors, I would ask questions and if there were no children present, one was, “What did you do as a teenager you wouldn’t want your children to know about.” Good times!

    (Things like driving while looking through the wrong end of binoculars…)

  4. John Whitman says:

    #18 – What’s something your friends know about you that I don’t?
    Isabel – Ain’t that the truth. I learned a lot more about my mother by accident from her friends than I ever learned by intent on my part. Maybe that’s because our parents were actually young (hard for us to imagine) and did interesting things before we came along, things we could never imagine them doing.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Yes, I liked that one, too. Something to be said for cultivating those old friends . . .

  5. The questions surprise me because I can answer most of them, I think, in the absence of my mother. However, I believe she could not have asked all of the same questions of her mother. The level of transparency we have come to expect between generations hardly existed then. I have learned more from some of my cousins about my grandmother, who lived neared to her, than I gleaned from my mother. Perhaps learning to be circumspect had something to do with survival in large families and in small communities, too.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Oh, that’s interesting. I think you’re onto something. For my part, it seems to me that our children are more intimate with their children — more conversant with the details of their lives — than we were with them. Some of this might be abetted by the technological changes in communication, but I think it’s a cultural change of the sort you note.

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