The Ultimate Gift – A Life Story Preserved
I am writing something I won’t be sharing with you online or anywhere else – my life story! So why tell you about it at all?
This is actually a private project – a gift for my family. But I’m having so much fun with it, that I thought some of you may be interested in trying something similar. Either record your own life story (for your kids and grand kids) or give your parents a special gift – your interest and your time while you “interview” them.
But you may be wondering why would I be doing this at my young (ish) age?
Still a Lot of Life to Live
Hopefully, I still have about a third of my life ahead of me (I’m 64) so why would I consider writing my life story before I know the final chapter?
Is anyone’s story complete before their last day? One could always argue for waiting until later. But the argument for not procrastinating is better (see item 2 on my list below).
For the moment, I’m only creating a voice recording. In time, I may put the highlights into a document or book and even add a few photos but the first step is audio. Recording the basics in some fashion, sooner rather than later, is the key and most important part.
We’re not planning an RV trip until March so I’ve set aside time over several weeks (one hour per week) for this project. But it’s not just about killing time while waiting for spring. Without the help of my sister’s web site and how-to guide, I would not be doing this at all. I wouldn’t have known where to start or how to go about it. Yes, I’m promoting her work but I have other reasons for my decision to do this now rather than later.
- My memory of recent and long-ago events is not as crisp as it used to be. If I wait, these memories may become even dimmer. The many well-thought-out questions in the guide are triggering all kinds of tidbits I haven’t thought about for a long time. Once we’ve finished recording them, I can always add to the story later.
- Two months ago, a school chum who was one day younger than me died very suddenly. She had a brilliant and very interesting life with a career as one of the 15 first female police officers on the Ontario force. Perhaps, like me, she had stories she would have shared with her kids and grand kids. Maybe she even thought about jotting some of them down – a good project for later, when she was older.
- I wanted a new excuse for mother/daughter time. Until recently I spent a day at Anna’s house on a weekly basis. I hung out with my grandsons, giving her uninterrupted time to work on our Boondockers Welcome web site. Now that both kids are in school full time, she doesn’t need me for that. This life story project requires two people: a story teller and a listener. We’re having fun with it; we follow the guide but our sessions feel more like conversations than interviews.
I have the time; we’ll be around home a lot this winter. That seldom happens. I wouldn’t want to commit the time to sit indoors and do this in summer or while we’re on the road.
- It’s fun. It’s also easy. We’re following the how-to guide and workbook by my sister, Lucy Ferguson. As a personal historian, she has been writing beautiful, very professional, personal biographies of “ordinary” people for many years. She’s a good listener and the questions she developed to “draw people out” are an intricate part of the guide. As a result, the memories seem to just pour out of me, one leading to the next.
- I wasn’t always who I am now. Well, I was, of course, but I’ve had a pretty crazy, diverse life. My kids have reached an age where they actually want to know more about my past, my time married to their dad (we divorced when my girls were only three and six) and they’re interested in all my stories. Imagine that!
- I get to preserve what I want – in my own words. And I can gloss over or not mention the parts I’d rather not be remembered for.
- From our initial interview session, we were hooked. Doing this was my idea but Anna says she’s loving it, too, and is surprised to be hearing some parts for the first time. “Why didn’t you ever think to tell us about that, mom?” Much of it might never have come up if not for this exercise. As you can imagine, we’ve shared quite a few laughs and even a few tears in the process.
- Finally (and totally tongue in cheek): if someone ever decides to produce a movie (ha ha) of my life – you know, for the history channel, perhaps – they will have a blueprint to follow that I’ve personally approved!
My own mom is 95. She may well live to be 100 (or more). Because of my sister, we have a beautiful record of her life story as well as my dad’s. A precious gift and one of my most treasured possessions. With Christmas around the corner, this might give you some ideas.
The ebook guide, Telling Your Story, is available through Lucy’s web site: http://www.simplylifestories.com/