Telling Stories – Holding Onto Memories

“If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”                    — Barry Lopez in “Crow and Weasel”

This quote by Barry Lopez from Patti J Christensen in an article called “Quotes About Story and Story Telling” expresses how I feel about stories and the telling of them. Like many of you, I have material for story inspiration from many scenarios and unique people in my life, as you can tell if you’ve read any of my stories on this site. I enjoy sharing them and feel a connection to you when I tell them. I feel someone out there might have a similar experience and together we can recapture the moment and hold it in time.

This is a picture of a personal, historical family book published in 1905 about the life of Thomas Edward, Associate of the Linean Society (one of the highest honors that science could confer on him).

Family Book

Family Book Photo © Jim Ruppel 2012

He is my great-great grandfather and I inherited the book when my father died.

It was given to him by his mother, my grandmother, and granddaughter of Thomas Edward. This hundred-year old book entitled “Life of a Scotch Naturalist” by Samuel Smiles, LL.D, tells the life story of a lad growing up in Scotland with a passion for nature.

So much so, I learned, was his passion that he was kicked out of a number of kindergarten schools for smuggling in all sorts of critters, i.e., young rats, moles, hedgehogs, horse-leeches, bees, snakes to name several. His love of nature led to continued exploring and the collection of many unidentified species throughout his entire life but without an education, which he regretted.

As an adult with wife and family, each day would find him working 12-plus hours as a shoemaker’s apprentice and at night searching caves, gullies and Scotland firths for the next, undiscovered new species to collect and send off to scientists to identify.

Nearing the end of his life after many years having never received any recognition or compensation for his contribution to science, he was finally given an award and a monthly stipend by Queen Victoria (my dad told me of a wooden box his mother had given him with Thomas’s award from Queen Victoria but I could never find it after my father’s death).

Even more important than the award and compensation, Thomas Edward finally became known to the world and placed upon the Civil List Fund by Her Majesty with a memorial signed by many distinguished gentlemen of the time to include Charles Darwin, F.R.S.

If this cherished century-old book of my great-great grandfather had never been written and his life story documented, I would never have known about it. If we don’t pass along our stories, they will be lost forever and generations that follow will never get a chance to know us and what the world was truly like, as we saw it and lived. Many people will write historical journals about our era but only we can truly capture it first-hand and share it with our loved ones and others connecting us now and in the world to come.

I like to hear people share their stories capturing the memories and I want to hold onto the moment with them for just a little longer. There’s one such book you may be interested in called “The Figurine” by Rona Simmons, an author featured on Denise Baer’s “Pay It Forward” Skipping Stones Memories site. Rona writes of WWII experiences, as told by a nurse.

I will be sharing guest short stories on my site from time-to-time and I would like to hear your story. If you would like to participate with full copyright, please send your contact information via comment of this post or email me at Please, under separate cover, send only true, personal story types (nonfiction) that are funny, unique, historical, inspirational or encouraging giving others hope and perhaps tools of lessons learned.

Let’s keep our stories and ancestors’ stories alive by telling them. It will mean something to our children and the generations to come.

Pat from the ol’ kitchen table ~~ Want to put a big grin on my face? Just leave a comment or question. I’ll be grateful!

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31 thoughts on “Telling Stories – Holding Onto Memories

  1. Very nice post, Pat.

    That’s such a wonderful ancestry find of your great great grandfather. It’s too bad you weren’t able to find the box your father had but at least you have the stories behind it.

    I write fiction, but I like to think that even in fiction, our characters hold a little bit of us in them.

    When my grandmother was alive, I didn’t truly appreciate her stories, a teenager with an attitude. Now I admire her so much being a professional opera singer and singing at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. She gave up singing to raise a family. She was a true lady in the purest sense.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Thank you Denise – I’m happy you enjoyed the post and story of my great-great grandfather. I wish we could have found the box too but had limitations and time constraints and weren’t able to pursue it further. Had to let it go. The stories are great though. I love them and thought it was interesting about your grandmother’s opera singing career, especially at the ’33 Chicago World’s Fair. Sounds like there are more stories there to explore. Are you interested now in any of that?

      Loved having you stop by for a visit and hope you come back real soon for some more reads. 🙂

  2. What a great thing to have Pat and a great story to tell. As you know, being Scottish you and I have much in common! Although I don’t have a book that’s a hundred years old. I love the concept of keeping stories alive…I’ll be back to read more.

    Love Elle

    • Hi Elle – I’m happy you’ve stopped by and liked the story and I’m thrilled we have a connection. I don’t know much at all about Scotland and very little about my ancestors but have a sense of intrigue for the people and the country. I feel it’s a part of me. I guess I have more adventures to explore and more stories to write. I’ll have to dive more diligently into your power of attraction so i have the means to do it. I love we have met and hope you come back so we can visit some more.

    • Wendy – Yes I just saw your post and want to congratulate you too for the nomination on the Liebster Award. I wish you luck and am truly honored you chose to nominate me too. Thank you so much!

  3. Hello, Pat,

    I came across your website by accident and I’m so glad I did because we are related! Thomas Edward is my great-great-great grandfather. You are the VERY FIRST descendant that I have ever come across which is amazing when you think how many children he and his wife had and that, as far as my mother has been able to ascertain, all survived into adulthood. Having said that, they were all girls but one, and I understand that the son never married.

    My relationship is through his daughter, Margaret, and she named her daughter Sophia (my great grandmother) after her own mother. Sophia died when I was two and I don’t remember her although I remember going to her house and admiring her pretty teacups! She was two years old when Thomas Edward died but she did remember him as she told my mother she visited him in Banff and sat upon his knee. Interestingly, she also told my mother that a book had been written about her grandfather but no-one believed her. It wasn’t until my mother did some research that she came across Life of a Scotch Naturalist and realised that Sophia (aka Narnie) had been telling the truth.

    So, we then made the pilgrimage to Banff (twice) and visited Thomas Edward’s grave, went to Duff House and walked along the strand of Macduff, visited the Deveron and saw otters and salmon, and walked to the Needle’s Eye, and also to Boyne Castle where he had the fight with the polecat.

    I’d love to know which daughter you are descended from and anything you have found out about the Edward family history. In return I will ask my mother to dig out anything she has and any photos as well. If you haven’t come across it have a look at this link as well:

    Best wishes,


    • I’m happy to meet you Kate and to connect with a relative I didn’t know I had! I’m thrilled! You are the second person I’ve been in touch with. Just recently Josephine Scott contacted me also a descendant of Thomas Edward. She has a copy of his book and she and her cousin went to Banff also and retraced some of the places in the book too. She is connected from her father – Thomas Edward was his great-great grandfather. I’m connected by way of Elizabeth – my father’s mother (Georgina) whose mother was Thomas Edward’s daughter Elizabeth.

      I hear you and Josephine’s stories of visiting Banff and long to see it for myself. It must be magical to revisit some of the same places. I would love to hear more about it, talk with you and get more acquainted. There is so much I want to learn about you. I will contact you via email and continue our visit.

      Thank you for finding me on my site and for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back and read more and I look forward to talking with you over on email. 🙂

  4. Isn’t it wonderful when you come across I find like this? It’s like holding tier hand for a brief moment and realizing they were real. If only we could ask a few question 🙂

    • Hi Andy — I totally agree. The book was a great find for me and even better in reading through the pages of his life. I feel like I was in a time-travel warp walking with him along the coasts of Scotland. Yes, like you, I wish I could have a conversation and ask some questions. It would be interesting to hear his take on how things are in the world today. Have you had some interesting people in your family you’ve discovered?

      It’s great to have you pay a visit. I hope you’ll come back again. You’re welcome to sit at my kitchen table anytime and share a tale or two here at Plain Talk. 🙂

      • Thanks Pat. I will be visiting you each time you post! I have found many stories about my family. The one I am most interested in I will have to dig for later. I have a cousin who has researched our genealogy on my moms side back to the 1500’s. She sent me a copy of that. I found it fascinating but I am most interested in their life and their stories. She tells me that my great grandfather was a plantation foreman on a large plantation west of New Orleans. He does not have a good reputation which I find hard to believe since his son, my grandfather was such a gentle and loving man. She told me that if I want to find out about him I will have to research it myself :-(. She has worked really hard over the years to find his stories and I guess she wants me to work just as hard. I did find out I have a French linage on that side. I have gone to the papers she pointed out to me and they are all in . . . . . .you guessed it …..French, lol. I am thankful our computers have transliteration abilities now. Thanks for a great site you are sharing! Blessings!

        • You’re welcome, Andy. I love that you’ll be coming back to visit. You’re welcome to sit at my kitchen table here at “Plain Talk”, anytime, and share your stories. It sounds like you’re on a journey to find more about your family’s genealogy and history. That is really interesting about your great-grandfather, as foreman on the plantation, and the French part, especially with what your cousin had to say about it. It looks like the information is out there to discover and, you’re right, it will help with having more available with computers. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

          I was fortunate to have a distant cousin contact me who lives in Australia. She had seen a post I wrote on my father ( and inquired about being related. Turns out, she had done a lot of research on my Dad’s father’s side from Scotland and sent me oodles of pictures with information. She also published a little booklet on the family’s genealogy and included my sister and I with pictures of my husband and I. It’s so fascinating to make those connections of family living today and of loved ones that have passed on.

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