Margaret Husnian

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 Margaret Husnian
As told by granddaughter (and MLJ employee) Abbi Wilt

What is something you love about your grandma?
When I was younger, one thing I loved about my grandma was that she always sought to include us. We lived pretty far away (a whole country away, in fact) from my grandparents in North Carolina. Once a year, we’d make the trek down to visit them. I remember my grandmother taking us out to the blackberry bushes to pick berries (she then turned them into cobbler) or bringing us along to the bargain store to hunt for deals. She let us cut biscuits in the kitchen and taught us how to snap green beans. (She was an excellent cook.) She always gave us her full attention.

Now, as an adult, I love how my grandma loves her grandkids. On every phone call, she asks about what’s going on in our lives and how she can keep up with the things we’re doing.

How has reading your grandma’s story impacted you?
I had the unique privilege of getting to interview and write my grandma’s Life Story Book, which was such a gift to our family and to my relationship with her. It was humanizing, refreshing, and bonding to recount her life story by story. I had known bits and pieces through the years, but I had never really sat down and talked to her in that way. My grandmother was the wife of a plane-jumping Army Lieutenant Colonel who whisked her (and their two daughters) all over the world, so her story was frequently overshadowed by his. It was such a gift to just talk about her—to hear her perspective on being raised in a mountain cove in North Carolina and then having to figure out life in the Middle East while missing home and everything she’d known. Our interviews, and her book, reiterated for me that she was incredibly brave and independent, not to mention a woman who had lived a rich, exciting, adventurous life.

The whole experience allowed me to better put myself in her shoes, for which I’m so grateful.

Was there a story that was particularly meaningful or surprising?
Two stories immediately come to mind. On the surprising front: My grandmother was in the Georgia National Guard and went on to flight nurse school. Her eyesight has always been mediocre, and she doesn’t have any peripheral vision. When she went to take the vision test to pass her flight nurse certification, the guy failed her. She burst into tears and cried, “Please let me pass!” He felt bad for her and let her finish the training. I never knew that!

In terms of a meaningful story: Our family suffered a devastating loss in 1999 when my grandma’s niece and several family members were murdered. It was something that was only ever talked about in hushed tones and, as kids, we never knew any details of the story. It was hard for Grandma to talk about, but, knowing the details would be lost and that the story was a really significant part of her family history, she recounted what happened. Not only was it the first time I had ever heard who and why—and I was nearly thirty years old at that point—it also meant that the story was preserved for future generations.

Would you encourage others to preserve their stories?
Absolutely. If we don’t document or preserve our stories, they’re lost forever. I learned so many things about my grandmother that I would’ve never known had we not done the book—like how she waterskied in Del Rio, Texas or told my grandfather that if he wanted to move back to Baltimore, he could consider it a hardship tour because she wasn’t going with him. The whole process deepened our relationship and has opened the door for more stories between the two of us.

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

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Just for visiting, we'd love to leave you with a gift, "Top 10 Questions to Ask a Parent or Grandparent." We've included many of our best-loved interview questions, the conversation that leave our friends saying, "I never thought to tell that story.

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