We all live hectic, busy lives and the years fly by so quickly that sometimes we forget to ask our parents (and our mothers in particular) the stories about their lives before it is too late.
It is twenty years since my own mother died and, although she did share lots of interesting stories with me, I still think of things that I wish I knew more about.
But it is too late.
Now a young UK mother has come up with a wonderful idea
She has created a book of questions for her mother but it is relevant for all mothers to answer.
Titled "Mum, Tell Me", the best seller is for daughters to give to their mothers and to receive it back again. It is designed to be filled in by the mother with her thoughts, her memories and her photographs. While its pages are lined, it only contains a minimum of text. Questions such as "Who was your favorite friend as a child?" are designed to prompt mothers into sharing their personal experiences with their families. Other questions include: "What did you want to be when you grew up?", "Who was your first kiss?" and "How did your life change after having me?"
The author was pushed into starting her project when, out of the blue, her mother was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She said she panicked, thinking of all the things that she had never asked her mother, things that she knew she wanted to know about - and of course what many of us are guilty of, namely realizing that she had not told her mother often enough how much she loved her. Those of us with British heritage are well known for being reserved and not showing our feelings!
Needless to say, the book was a great success with her mother - and she spent many happy hours filling it all in for her children and grandchildren to read and enjoy.
Taking that idea a step further
And that was to turn the original idea into a published book for other people to share with their own mothers.
Elma carried out research by asking lots of people what they wanted to know from their mothers as well as what they would like to share with their own children, especially precious stories that they would like remembered and passed on.
The book has gone on to sell three million copies in Europe and there have been spin offs to - versions for fathers, for grandmothers and for grandfathers.
How does the author feel the book should be used?
She says that mothers (or anyone else) should make the book their own, adding that they should have fun with it, writing when they want and for how long they want. Elma says the book is not like a school exercise but a great way of collecting stories and, even if you are not comfortable about filling out certain sections of the book, a drawing or photograph can be used to cover it.
If you are interested in the book, here are the details. "Mum, Tell Me
" by Elma van Vilet - from Particular Books £16.99.
We all filled in our baby books when our children were born - and managed to keep them up for a year or two. Now perhaps it is time for mothers and grandmothers to return the complement.