Things to Ask Your Grandparents Before They Are Gone

It’s human nature to take your family for granted, but once they die, you realize there were many things you don’t know about them. Don’t let the time get away from you. Your grandparents won’t be here forever.

grandma gail

Gail with a granddaughter and 2 great-granddaughters

Here are things to find out before it is too late.

Names and Dates of Their Parents and Grandparents

Find out the full names, nicknames, places they lived, and dates of their birth, marriage, and death. These are the links to your ancestry, so don’t miss the chance to get this information. Too many people just know their own parents’ names and grandparents. Asking your grandparents for details about their own parents and grandparents takes you back four generations. This can be a huge help if you try to piece together your ancestry later.

Favorite Recipes

If you love your grandmother’s chicken and noodles and the way your grandfather slow-cooks beef brisket, ask now. Write the recipes down and try them out, then ask for clarification and tips if the results aren’t as good as theirs. Sometimes, it’s hard to get the same ingredients like farm-fresh eggs so your cooking effort may not taste just like your grandma’s.

recipe carrot cookies

Family Illnesses

Do certain kinds of cancer show up again and again in the family? Maybe there’s a pattern of heart problems. Find out what caused the deaths of your great-grandparents. Such knowledge helps you take preventive steps and make lifestyle changes.

Family Secrets

If there is some topic that the family tiptoes around and never discusses, ask the grandparents. What really happened to Uncle Billy who disappeared? Why do two cousins never speak to each other? Why did the family leave the Old Country?

Their Memories of a Bygone Era

What was it like during World War II? Find out details about their daily life as a child and how times have changed. Try to save these memories by writing them down or videotaping your grandparents. Get out the photo album and ask questions about the people in the pictures.


Gail’s uncle, Albert Vining in World War I

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