We’ve all heard at some point in our life from grandparents or family friends how different life was before modern-day technology, and until 2018 I never truly appreciated it. My grandpa Murray was a cowboy through and through; being born in 1937 in a small town in rural Alberta, he grew up in a very different time. He always loved to joke and tell stories about the family, our heritage and even some of the trouble he caused when he was younger with my great aunts and uncles on the farm. His favourite thing to do was sit around a fire with friends and family and tell his stories to anyone who would listen. I was always right there, taking in every word.
When social media started to become popular, I mentioned to my grandpa that he should get Facebook, and in his true goofy self, he got up to grab a book and put his face in it, asking me, “now what?”. I can only imagine the content he would have posted. Although when I was younger, I didn’t have any stories to swap, however when I joined the Navy, that all changed. He loved to hear everything from our parades to watching dolphins swimming next to my ship while we were at sea. He never saw the ocean, so he always lived vicariously through me in that regard as I did with his farm stories. Sadly, he had dementia and became non-verbal in 2018 and passed that July, but his stories and the twinkle in his eye he got while telling them will always be remembered by anyone who knew him.
In the Navy, we have Christmas dinners for a week where we would invite Veterans to the base, allowing junior members to socialize with the Veterans. The goal is to sit at a table mixed with Veterans and active members. However, not everyone wants to, and that’s ok. But, a few of us took advantage and had one of the best times. So many of them would tell stories from “the good old days” to anyone who would listen, and while some of the war stories weren’t their happiest memories, it made them who they were.
One man, in particular, earned a special place in my heart, even to this day. He was a sailor in WWII, whose wife had sadly passed the year before, with no children living at the local Veteran’s home. He said they would all swap stories, but telling them to a fresh set of ears was always a bonus. We chatted until they kicked us out, where we ended up having a coffee at the shop on base for another hour. Fast forward a few days later, and he showed up at my office wanting to have another coffee date, and I was honoured. It became a weekly occurrence and something I looked forward to. Sadly he passed, but I still talk about him and his stories because of his impact on my life.
While I love social media and the digital world for sharing, I would much rather sit around the fire as my grandpa did.
Which method would you choose?