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Out on a Limb
Now or never: The best time to capture your family's stories is before it's too late.
Don't wait. That relative you've been meaning to contact to ask about your family history — do it now. That talk you've been wanting to have with Grandma to get her stories about growing up — have it today. Your precious past is slipping away, and every minute you delay, every time you put it off till tomorrow, you risk losing a piece of it forever.

I learned this the hard way this spring. I'd been looking forward to seeing my Aunt Ginny, always my favorite of my dad's siblings, when I went to the National Genealogical Society conference in Portland, Ore., where she'd recently moved. I hadn't seen her in several years, but last fall I did e-mail her with some questions about the family tree. Not only was she the last surviving sibling, but as the youngest she had the most contact with my grandfather and great-grandfather in her hometown of Moline, 111. Aunt Ginny promised to tell me stories about them when I visited.

But just a few weeks before my trip, Aunt Ginny died. Besides the personal loss, I couldn't help regretting the stories I never got to hear.

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