As I’ve been digging through the pages of family history I have, the letters, the daily diary of my great grandmother, the family tree, it’s occurred to me that it’s probably time to begin writing my own story down, to be included for future generations.
This thought is actually a little daunting, to be honest. I am fraught with the question of, ‘Who will care about anything I’ve ever done? It hasn’t been particularly exciting, after all..’ But as I pour over the accounts my great grandmother wrote down about her early childhood, tending to cows and pigs and being taught at the homestead, I find myself fascinated by ordinary, even mundane.
Too often we don’t think to share our stories because we think no one will care. And right now, maybe they won’t so much. But eventually we won’t be around and once we’re gone – believe me – they’ll wish they’d had you write some of your memories down.
In 1997 my father suddenly passed away at the age of 48. As we sat around the tables after his memorial service, sharing food and stories, laughter and tears, several of his high school and college buddies recounted tales of my father’s youth. It was a treasure to hear. But of course, there was no one there taking notes in order to transcribe those stories, so now, nearly 20 year later, I have completely forgotten them. How I wish I could go back and ask my dad to tell his stories himself, whether in writing or on tape.
I’m now 5 years away from the age my daddy was when he died, and I too, have two children of my own. I’m increasingly aware of how short my time may be. Let’s face, none of us get out of here alive. And certainly, we don’t know when our time is up.
So, rather than leaving our loved ones behind with vague remembrances of the stories they’ve heard us tell, let’s take the time to write our own history down. If writing seems to daunting for whatever reason, record it on a cassette tape (what’s that?) or, if you have a smartphone, there are voice recording apps you can use then download onto a flash drive.
The next step is to start asking yourself some questions. Here are some I’ve thought of, quickly:
- Place of birth – hospital, city, county, state, as well as date
- The meaning or reason behind your name.
- School you attended – Elementary – College; include favorite and least favorite subjects and teachers, friends, awards and achievements, dating, degrees you attained, extracurricular activities, dreams for your future
- First job – age, place, boss, how you liked it; other jobs; career
- Military career – boot camp, were you served, how many years, commander/s, stories of interest (daily routine, funny things that happened, how it changed or grew you, etc…)
- Marriage and family – name, place and date of birth of spouse; same info for any children, info on the day you were married (place, attendants, colors, gifts, reception, etc…), stories behind the names of your children; what daily life was like
- Major historical events in your lifetime: 9/11, Kennedy shot, Woodstock, The Challenger, protests, Olympics, etc… – How did you hear about it, where were you, how did it impact your community/family/you
- Your bucket list – things you want to do before you die.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Grab a blank journal or notebook, your favorite pen, a cuppa whatever you like and find a cozy place and start writing!
*For additional writing inspiration check out the book, Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History, by Linda Spence. I haven’t actually read it yet, but it’s on my desk and in looking through it, she has a million (roughly) wonderful questions to get your pen moving!
**If you’d like to purchase a journal that I personally bound, please visit my Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.bojomojodesigns.com. If you don’t see a cover you like, send me a message and I’ll see what I can do! Plus, if you message me that you read the blog post, you get 20% off your first journal!