In 1902, 16 years old and alone, my grandmother set sail from Cork, Ireland, to a new life in America. She landed in New York and found work as a maid with a wealthy family whose physician suggested she train as a nurse. She didn’t have a high school diploma but talked her way into nursing school. After graduating, she joined the Red Cross and was deployed to French hospitals near the front lines of World War I. Terrified by all she witnessed, Grandma made a promise that if she survived she’d to go to Mass daily – twice on Sunday – and did almost to the day she died.
Over many years, my father told that and other tales, especially during the summer as we gathered around the campfire (aka a picnic table). It turns out that sharing family stories with adult children and grandchildren is more than a pleasant pastime.Research has found that a strong narrative helps build strong family bonds.