One of the gifts of a Life Story Book from Memory Lane Jane is the joy of reading loved ones’ stories through their own lens—a compilation of questions never asked, tales never told, and values never documented. This Mother’s Day, we honor the stories and experiences of extraordinary, kind, resilient women that we’ve been privileged to document through the years. For this series, we asked several friends to talk about their mothers/grandmothers and how a Life Story Book from Memory Lane Jane has deepened their relationships.

Honoring Jean Meneley
As told by granddaughter Blair Meneley Vigh

What is something you love about your grandma?
I love watching her take everything in when we all gather at her house with our children. When there is chaos of little feet running through the house and the yard, joyful screaming (sometimes not-so-joyful), and a spiderweb of simultaneous conversation, she sits and watches every single one of us. It is obvious how much joy it brings her just having us around.

I love that, every time I visit with her or we have a chat on the phone, she tells me how proud she is of me, how special she thinks I am, how exquisite she thinks my daughter is, and how much she appreciates the time that I take to connect with her. I love that she is intentional about sharing those thoughts with us—and I know I’m not the only one.

I love how much she loves us and, as I get older, I realize what a gift it is to be unconditionally loved.

How has reading your grandma’s story impacted you?
The hard copy of her book has been in my possession for four years, yet I read it cover to cover, for the first time, only a few days ago. That waiting was intentional. There was something so final to me about reading her entire life story, and it always made me very emotional. Recently, we had a scare, and I was suddenly full of regret for not having read her book so that I could talk with her about the parts of her life that I previously knew nothing about. I finished the book and cried many times in the process.

The thought I keep having is that she too was once a 37-year-old woman, married with a daughter—just like me. She is still that same woman inside, just with many more years lived, experiences had, and a body that has aged and slowed down significantly since.

[After reading her book] I called her and our conversation felt so different from any other we’ve had before. I asked her questions about some of the stories I read in her book and was gifted with more stories that I didn’t know about her. This book made me see my grandmother in a completely new way and I am so grateful to have it.

Was there a story that was particularly meaningful or surprising?
My favorite few stories were the ones that helped me realize that she has gifted me, and other family members, with some very significant pieces that she has had for most of her life. I have her mother’s hand-painted dishcloths and chopsticks from Madame Wu’s in Santa Monica, which is where [my grandma] had her installation ceremony as president of the Kiwani-Annes. My older sister, Paige, has the hand-carved Japanese chest from Grandma’s first love, Marion.

Would you encourage others to preserve their stories?
I actively encourage people to have this done and will continue to do so. This book is one of my most precious possessions.

If you’d like to preserve your mom’s stories in an heirloom Life Story Book from Memory Lane Jane, we’d love to speak with you.

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