This past Christmas my paternal-grandmother did one of the most amazing things…she presented the family with copies of an overview of her life.
As a hobby genealogist, I have a chart of names, dates, and facts. But to have her life written in her own words, with her unique phrasing and commentary…is something we could never get from official documents.
The pages she gifted to us reveal just how strong, independent and amazing she was and still is as she closes in on 100. I doubt she had any inclination other than recording her life, but her story provided shape to the history of women in a time much different, but also still similar, to mine.
We live our lives doing what is happening now, planning for tomorrow, worrying about whatever is coming next. We think about how what we are doing affects the future, while rarely looking at the past as the foundations for today.
Honest family histories expand our understanding of why our lives are the way they are. We may not have the opportunity to retrieve the stories of the past for ourselves, but we do have the opportunity to leave the stories for the future.
Take the time to write your story before it is forgotten. Take time to share the journey of your life, so that your descendants – related or not – can know what really happened.
You are living tomorrow’s history, so record it, please. The future needs it.
5 Ways to Start Writing Your Story
- Keep a journal. Record events – include movies, concerts, coffee dates, trips, etc. Do not forget to include dates, locations, people included and impressions. (I loved being able to watch the same movies my grandfather wrote about in his letters during his time at Wright-Patterson during WWII.)
- Make a list of significant events or situations in your life. Expand on this list by writing at least a paragraph of why it made this list.
- Make a list of significant people in your life. Write about who this person was and their impact on your. Include a list of activities, situations, or other events that you both were involved in.
- Create a timeline of your life. Divide the timeline into periods of time, such as: high school; early parenthood; a particular job; or significant relationships. Each period can be a different length of years (or months). Write a summary of each of these periods of time.
- Dig out old photographs. Choose photographs of meaningful people, places, and/or times. Write about what is going on in the pictures, including as much factual information as possible (names, dates, locations, etc.). Remember to keep a copy of the photograph with your writing.
When you are done, share copies with whomever you choose – keeping in mind that local historical centers love to add personal accounts to their genealogy files and city information.
And a post from the past: 10 Reasons Why You Need to Journal