Personal Myth Just as myths define cultural values, personal myths define family values and are links with the past. The story of ‘Granny May’ is a family myth which is a part of my family history and character. Personal Myth. As “distantly recalled memories, ” myths are a part of every family history. These personal myths are often stories based on historical fact which are widely altered as they are handed down from generation to generation. Such myths are the links between the past and the present. They are an integral part of family history, and become a part of the character of each family member.
My family myth centers round an old rifle which is mounted on the wall of the living room in my grandparents’ home. It is lovingly oiled and polished. Below it is a sepia-tinted, fading photograph of my great-great-grandmother, ‘Granny May. ’ In the early twentieth century, as her husband struggled to establish a home in the open ranges, Granny May shot and killed a wild animal with this rifle. This is the bedtime story for generations of children in my family. The story varies, depending on the aunt, or uncle, who is the narrator.
Granny May was a timid, diminutive woman who had never handled a firearm in all her life; she had left her baby napping on the back porch; the mountain lion sneaked up on the sleeping baby; granny grabbed her husband’s rifle and just shot it dead! Granny walking with Grandpa one evening, when a black bear suddenly made its appearance; Grandpa tripped at that crucial juncture; Granny grabbed his rifle and shot the bear! The wild animal may be a cougar, a bear, or a wolf; the time and scene of action may vary.
What remains constant is Granny May’s courage and quick wits in the face of adversity. Just as myths define a culture’s values, this personal myth defines our family values. The myth embodies the struggles of our ancestors and their triumph over the elements and early hardships. Every member of my family holds the story of Granny May close to their hearts. It is our inspiration in times of trial.
Each time anybody wavers in the face of a test, or lacks confidence, the question is asked: “What would Granny May tell you? ”