I sat in my grandmother's study sifting through volumes of family documents as the sound of my grandfather's favorite Bocelli video concert drifted up the stairs. As my mind wandered from the stories in old letters and immigration documents to recollections of my own family experiences - a memorable family vacation, the smell of my mother's famous spinach stuffed shells (marking her once-a-month culinary creation) - I could not help what wonder what the stories of my family's past would mean to me, and what the stories of my own past would one day mean to future generations. Why was I so interested in the stories of my ancestors, of my great-grandparents, of my grandparents? How did these stories of memories past fit into the fabric of my own life?
Sometimes people have a tendency to believe the stories of their own lives are less important than those they read about in history books or hear about on television. And sometimes people believe their own stories are more important than the stories of people around them - friends, neighbors, strangers. It was my grandmother who taught me that all individuals and all families have their own important stories to tell; not stories that make them greater or less than anyone else, but stories that make them unique, stories that bind them to their pasts and connect them to their futures. Stories can be the powerful links that connect generations otherwise disconnected by the barriers of time and distance and memory. To find insight and light among a trunk filled with torn, yellowed letters and postcards; to see resemblance in a smile shining through a dusty old photograph; to discover a hidden strength in the stories of long lives well-lived - these are the qualities that compel me to tell my family's stories - stories that have given me a greater understanding of not only who I am, but also of where I have come from.