Living a full life is something to be proud of! It's been a terrifying journey, full of things we never thought possible. It's been a fantastic journey, full of beauty unable to be expressed. At time, let's be honest, it's been a difficult journey, full of daily drudgery or combat against enemies seen or unseen. Our lives encompass so much during their courses that it's difficult to know where to start when you'd like to share your story. One finds themselves only able to share snippets of the tale in a way in which the listener has patience for. That is why it is a particularly good idea to work on recording it for future generations all in on spot.
What if I can no longer write for long periods of time? That is actually a much more common excuse than you know. You could choose to have a family member write it down for you or you could record it verbally onto a device that someone would be able to easily use when you're finished so they can transcribe it if they desire. Stories have a much warmer feel, generally, if there is someone there to listen, so if you choose to do it via a recording, it still may be a good idea to have a loved one present.
Where do I begin? At the beginning, of course! Since this is your own memoir, be sure that you start with your date & place of birth. List any details here about what you can remember of your parents or grandparents dates & places of birth, too. It will help the story readers later on to be able to flesh out who those people are, since they may not have had the pleasure of meeting them in life. Many times in history these important facts have been left out in storytelling, and it makes it challenging for those who are researching to go back and try to piece the information together. Did you hear any stories about your birth? If so, this is the best place to situate them in your story.
Then, you should naturally progress into your childhood years. How many siblings did you have? What were/are their names & ages? Tell about what you remember about them. Were any of you particularly mischievous? Were any particularly kind & compassionate? Share stories that make you laugh. Also, share stories that make you cry. It's important for future generations to know that life can be joyful & difficult and still worth living!
What do you remember about your childhood home? Where was it located? Is it still there? Do you remember anything about the house/houses that you grew up in that would be unusual by today's standards? Did you have a well or outhouse? Did you cover the windows or walls against the cold wind in the winter? Did you have animals around the house? Did you keep livestock? Do you have any stories from butchering day or from the gardens? What did you do to occupy your time as a youngster?
The teen years can be an embarrassing time for any of us, but do you have stories from those years? When did you get your drivers license? What types of cars did you ride in? What was your first job & how did you feel about it? What new responsibilities did you have as you came of age?
Was your early life wrought with success from early on or did you struggle? How long was it until you felt as if you really had a handle on life's challenges? How many children did you end up having? Did you lose any children? What were your passions throughout this time period of life?
Throughout all of life, did you experience any life changing moments that you can pinpoint? Did you have any major accidents or terrible illnesses? Some things about your medical history may be very helpful for future generations that may face similar issues in their health. If there were things like, postpartum depression or other mental illnesses that were prevalent, now is the time to discuss them. There once was stigma attached to those illnesses, but there is much greater understanding about them these days than there ever has been before. It may help to share them. Are there certain things that you would do differently if you had them to do over again?
Many of these things are hard to think of all in one sitting, so it is good to be able to spread this journey out over a number of weeks. It can be emotionally draining, but think of the value to future generations!
If you find it too difficult to cover life in detail with just these few prompts, consider ordering a family heritage journal or getting a book about telling your story. There are a number of books & journals available for this purpose, including: “Grandmother, Tell Me Your Story,” and a similar one for Grandfather.
Do not be discouraged if you forget to include things along the way. You will not do it perfectly, none of us can. It's important, though, to do as much as we can so that those who come behind us know what it meant for us who paved the way...and a partially written legacy is much better than one forgotten altogether!