It's a reliable prediction that 2.3 million Americans will die this year. And they'll carry to the grave stories, life experiences and achievements soon forgotten. In doing so, they'll deny their children, grandchildren, and future generations the joys and inspiration of learning about and preserving the memories of people dear to them. That's a tragedy.
Think about it. You, a parent, or relative, or a friend, spend 60, 70, 80 or more years on this earth. And all that's transpired is gone in a wisp -- unless some effort is made to document things that happened in your original words. That is, in the words of the person to whom they happened.
You can begin the process or help a parent do so by following these seven easily-applied steps.
- Think about where you are at this stage in your life, how far and from where you've come.
- Begin to examine some of your memorabilia, old and recent photos.
- Try to imagine what your children and grandchildren might want to know and remember about you and how they can benefit from your life experiences.
- Take small bites of your memory. It's easier to recall if you divide life into segments:
- The early and formative years -- growing up, schooling, teachers, family and friends
- Preparing for adulthood -- education and training, career planning
- Career and family development -- first and succeeding jobs, co-workers, social alliances, marriage, the first child, family experiences
- Midlife and transition -- planning the later years, recreation and culture, service to family and the public
- Achieving senior status -- attitudes and activities
- Examine your life decade by decade. In each ten-year period, recall the major historical events that occurred. They become triggers and links to the status and events in your life that took place in and around that time.
- Begin to write -- nothing pretentious, simply "talking" on paper. It's best said in your (or your parents') own words.
- Compile your notes. A notebook, folder or portfolio will do nicely.
There's no greater gift or legacy you can leave children and grandchildren. It's something they'll cherish forever. But you have to take the first step, and there's no better time than now.
This article was contributed by Bob Max, founder of Remember Me?, a Family History Documentary Service. For further help and ideas for developing your (or your parents') life stories, visit Bob's site at www.rememberme2.com