Family history and Memory

I was looking through our photo album yesterday
(yes, some people still have albums!)Jim-and-Jeanie-1941
and I found this lovely photo of James and Jeanie Paton, my parents.

As you can see, they had much in common.

Jeanie was a wonderful highland dancer and went on to become a renowned teacher, adjudicator and examiner in the art. She was awarded  her QSM for a lifetime of outstanding service to all things Scottish. I still recall the aroma of dried heather that we regularly ribboned for Burns’ Nights. Jeanie was 94 when she died.

James (Jim) was  a dedicated bagpiper in the Canterbury Caledonian Highland Pipe Band and eventually became Pipe Major. He too was an adjudicator at pipe band contests and was always in demand to play for dancers at highland competitions. He also played for many, many funerals in Christchurch. An engineer, Dad was creative and made many wonderful gadgets and props for our varied enthusiasms. He was sorely mourned when he died in his 52nd year.

They were both born in Scotland and came to New Zealand with their parents in the 1920’s.

Now, in 2022, I realise just how fortunate my sister Allison and I were to be raised by these two. Both parents had that ingrained Scottish belief in the importance of education as well as ensuring that their children were given as many varied and inspiring  experiences as their limited income allowed. We learned to dance (of course!), we travelled to sports days, competitions and pipe band contests, attended cèilidhs and amazing performances by visiting artists, including the Borovansky ballet, Winifred Atwell, and pantomimes. And all around us were the sounds of bagpipes, Scottish accents and the fun of creating the things we didn’t have money to buy. For much of that time, we didn’t have a family car so we walked to school and church and were transported to the tram, bus or train on their bicycles.

And we always did our school homework!

What has all this to do with memory?

Here’s a short excerpt from a talk I gave in a retirement village recently.

3.26 minute video (apologies for the functional background!)

How has YOUR family history underpinned your life and memory today?

I would love to share your stories in our newsletter – either in our comments below or if you’d prefer, please email them to me