We all make resolutions at the beginning of a new year and I know mine is to spend more time writing a new book, I have just started and to try to write a little about my early life. We were just asked at church if we could remember the first time we remember hearing the name of Jesus. It made me think of my earliest memories of Bible stories and Sunday school; I think it was learning a hymn, “Jesus loves me” that I most remember. Another memory is one of my mother telling me that when she was a little girl in a large family, her father rarely showed anger but, if he felt annoyed with any of them, he would go out into the back yard and the children would hear him saying,”Jesus, Jesus” over and over. When he felt better, he’d come back inside! I think I will put that into my own story now.
After church, I visited an old 95-year-old man. After I told about the question in the sermon, his mind was immediately thrown back to his own childhood and early memories of Sunday school in an old community hall opposite the church. He remembers winning a prize for memorizing some verses. He went on to talk about the church near Sandringham in England and then to Christmas where Queen Mary gave each child on the estate a gift. I think I’m now going to resolve to record more of his interesting memories as his grandfather was responsible for all the clocks in the royal residence in Sandringham. Fascinating stuff! And all that came today from one mention of Jesus.
Talking to many people of the past year, I appreciate how unique each life is. One lady from Liverpool has always preferred travelling by ship rather than by plane across the Atlantic; this has grown into a love of cruising in recent years. Another man, I wrote about this year, made me understand what it was like to be in Italy during the years 1942-43. His memory of personal incidents brought that history alive for me and, I know for his young grandchildren too.
The very act of writing someone’s story helps us understand how different lives have developed. We find themes that thread through the tapestry of life such as sea travel for one woman. It is a natural for people to look back at life to make sense of what’s happened as the old man did about he years he spent as a young mechanic with the Canadian army. The skills he learned then gave him entry into a job he kept for life. Maybe your grand children would love to know more about how your life evolved and why it went a certain way. Writing a life story gives each one of us new insight; it is a gift for anyone involved in helping you because taking the time for a shared experience is always worthwhile. It can build family relationships.
Depending on your own energy, there are various ways you can record your memories. I will list them below.
1.Photo Albums that are annotated: Some people prefer to create a personal story through pictures. We often make memory albums for children who are leaving home or getting married. Pictures jog the memory of an older relative with a story to tell.It’s a good way to start a new project. A photo scrapbook with comments is even better.
2. A Keepsake Scrapbook: This could be enough for some one younger or someone who just wants to highlight certain features of his/her life. It is a good way to get records organized before writing a memoir. It lends itself to themes more such as family holidays, homes, pets, school days, special occasions and so on. It will allow for a more artistic presentation with larger photographs or records that are meaningful for the person who is featured in it.
3. Audio Tape or CD: As you remember incidents, it is good to record them in some way. The easiest method today is using a digital recorder that can eventually be made into a CD. Recording someone telling the story makes it easier to write it out in that person’s voice later. This is something you could do with one family member. It could be fun. It will be a lasting record of someone’s voice. I know because we taped my father in law 28 years ago before he died and we can still listen to him.
4. A Written Memoir: This is the most lasting way of sharing your story. Nothing is a better gift for your family and friends to treasure. If you have done a taped interview, a book can be made from the memories you record. You can plan the book chronologically or as a series of stories.
5. A Video: If you are not camera-shy, a family member or friend could video-tape part of your story to add to a book. It may be used too to explain a photo collection and tell a really funny story. The video could include family members listening to you or another relative.
Once you have considered the method you will use, make a decision about what approach suits you or your subject’s budget as well as interest. Think:-
*Is this just for the family or is it for public use?
*What do I hope to accomplish in it?
*Will I need help in putting it together?
Start slowly to gather your evidence, photos and other memorabilia and you will soon see what is possible to achieve over time. Enjoy this. It can be fun and rewarding. It’s a great way to share your memories with a youngster on a snowy afternoon. Set a goal to organize your ideas in some way before January or at the latest, before February is over.