Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, April 12, 2011
Write stories of your own life for posterity
Every life is unique, and none of us will be here forever.
That’s why one of the most important things that you can do for your children, grandchildren, and posterity is to write about your own life. Whether you are 15 or 105, you need to write your stories. It doesn’t matter whether you can spell, punctuate or type. What does matter is that you record your memories.
If you start working on those written stories now, by Christmas you could have a meaningful gift that your family will cherish always.
Worthwhile project? Just imagine how you would value the written life accounts of YOUR ancestors who are no longer living – your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Few families have such accounts, but the ones that do certainly treasure them.
So… How to do it? The process is easy.
Spend some time thinking about the following starter questions, and then sit down with a paper and pencil (or a computer keyboard) and answer the ones that you like, one at a time, fully and thoughtfully.
Questions for response:
· What was life like when you were young? How was it different than today?
· What are your earliest childhood memories?
· Where did you attend school? What was school like? Describe it.
· Do you remember your teachers? Tell about them, and what you learned from each.
· What are some of your school memories, in the classroom and on the playground? What are some specific school events that stand out in your memory?
· What school subjects did you like best and why? Which ones were hardest for you?
· Did you ever get into trouble at school? Tell about it.
· Did you attend church? What are your church memories?
· What did you do for fun when you were a kid? What kinds of games did you play?
· What did you do on Saturday mornings?
· Who were your best friends when you were young? Tell some stories about things that you did together.
· Who was your first girlfriend or boyfriend?
· Did you know your grandparents? What were they like?
· What were family gatherings like when you were young?
· What were holidays like? What are your most special holiday memories?
· Tell some stories about your parents.
· Tell about your brothers and sisters. What are some stories about them from when they were growing up?
· What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
· What is the happiest moment of your life?
· What is the saddest? Explain.
· How did you choose your profession?
· Tell about your earliest jobs – the good and the bad. Think of some special stories from your work.
· How did you meet your husband or wife?
· What are some high points, so far, in your life?
These are starter questions. Every person can answer most of them with unique stories or perspectives that will have meaning to future generations.
Answer the ones that you like. Skip the rest.
By addressing one question at a time, fully and completely without regard to length, spelling or structure, you can work toward a full and interesting account of your life.
What’s more, once you start the process of recording your memories, you will likely find that you enjoy it.
For more starter questions to prompt your memories, there are several great online sites. One of the best is at www.StoryCorps.org. StoryCorps is a great National Public Radio program that seeks recorded oral histories from people around the nation.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.