Do you wish you could preserve your footprints on this planet by saving your stories? Do you often wish you knew more about a relative who has passed away? How many times have you heard someone say, “There are so many questions I should have asked”?
Are there old photos in your parents’ albums of people you don’t know? What would you like future generations to remember about you?
There are many creative ways to chronicle the events in our lives, without taking on the daunting task of writing an autobiography.
When we look back from our perch in the golden years, we may find that life has been both ordinary and extraordinary, depending on the moment du jour. And like so many others, we become more curious about family members who came before us.
That stuff didn’t seem to matter when we were younger, as we were much too busy with family and career, etc. But as life slows down and we become more thoughtful, we start looking back to see how we got here.
We may begin to wonder if someone in the future will be interested in what life was like during our lifetime. Could a few written stories or mementos left behind keep us close to our children and grandchildren?
Might it give them a sense of belonging? Is it possible that a few small bits of ourselves could serve as a guidepost, to help them face life’s challenges?
When I look back on the past 75 years of my life, fleeting and somewhat disjointed images play across my memory tracks like a movie. Some images are vivid and well connected, while others flash in and out of focus – like trying to remember a dream.
I feel the clock ticking more loudly every day, as a reminder for me to capture my stories before they disappear. I must really dig deep through years of accumulated dust bunnies, some as big as tumbleweeds. There are things I hadn’t thought about for decades.
While I’ve made the decision to write my stories in book form, that route isn’t for everyone. And as I go through this process, I realize there are many other ways to record our lives and legacies.
What’s a memoir anyway, but a collection of stories? So why not create a collection of pictures, memorabilia or any objects of significance in our lives, as a reflection of who we are?
Go through your pictures and add names, dates, places and relationships. Dig out sepia photos in old albums and include them in your collection. There are many scrapbooking apps to help you do this, if you are creatively inclined.
Choose a nice journal and start a handwritten diary of short stories about various events in your life. Don’t write them in any order – just record and date them as the memory comes to you.
Write a letter to each of your children, describing the events of the day they were born. If you have baby memorabilia, you could include them and make individual packages.
Jot down what you know about your parents: who they were, where they were from, what they did for a living, etc. Bring them to life with as much colorful detail as you can.
Use a recording device to tell a few stories and talk about important moments in your life. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the voice of a loved one who has passed?
Create a family time capsule to include items of interest for future generations, like clippings, letters, pictures, CDs. There are many great ideas online.
Write out all your best recipes and where you got them, especially family holiday favorites. Add photos of the dish if you can.
Record the details of the biggest adventures and challenges in your life. Don’t be afraid to include your vulnerabilities and failures.
If you are a collector, make lists to describe the items, where you got them and any historical or appraisal information you have.
If there is a family heirloom you plan to pass down, record what you know about it, any previous owners and where it came from.
Whether we decide to preserve our stories in print or by using any of the ideas above, the process can be as long or short as we want. But most of us would like to be remembered for something.
So, leaving a bit of ourselves behind might be our best shot at a small slice of immortality. It’s up to each one of us to choose what we want to leave in our wake.
We ladies at Sixty and Me have lived millions of minutes on this planet and we all have important messages to leave behind. It may not matter to anyone today, but it’s like planting a tree. It’s all about the future.
How do you plan to tell your stories? Have you written a memoir or book, or are you recording memories of your life in some other way? Let’s have a conversation!