EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL: WHAT'S YOURS?
Thirty years ago my mom and dad became snowbirds, abiding in Yuma, Arizona for six months of the year in an effort to avoid the cold, snowy Idaho winters. After my dad passed away, I insisted on accompanying my mother on her annual journey as a safety measure вЂ“ after all a woman shouldnвЂ™t be driving that distance by herself.
Little did I know that I would come to value those yearly treks as we talked almost the entire distance of nearly 900 miles, enjoying our one-on-one time. I learned so much about her and her early life; yet knowing I would forget some of the stories, I encouraged her to write them down.
Five years ago, when my mother passed away, I found a folder filled with life stories she had written вЂ¦ some she had shared with me and others were new. As I read them, some made me laugh, others made me cry and all gave me a better understanding of who she was as a person. I soon realized that these stories were my motherвЂ™s legacy.
As I shared with friends the treasures I had inherited in these stories, all could relate. Some said they wish their parents or grandparents had written their life stories, some said their parents had and they were so glad they did, while others admitted they really needed to start writing their own memories.
Some people have commented, вЂњWho would want to read about my life? ItвЂ™s so boring.вЂќ To them I respond, вЂњThatвЂ™s just not true. Everyone has a story to tell!вЂќ
If you donвЂ™t think your life is interesting, consider these questions:
- What changes have occurred throughout your lifetime? (technology, travel, cost of goods, education, social behavior)
- What difficulties have you experienced and what lessons did you learn from them? (Sharing the lessons we learned will help our children and grandchildren better face their own challenges.)
- Who are some of the people or events that have influenced your life? In what way?
- What are some of the values and beliefs you cherish and would like to pass on to your posterity? Why?
If these questions donвЂ™t convince you that your life is of interest to others or that you have an important message to share, then ask yourself, вЂњIf I had a chance to talk with a deceased relative about his or her life, would I want to?вЂќ I think most of us would. I wish I had asked my grandfather who passed away at the age of 93 about his experiences as a missionary, requiring him to leave behind a wife and three young children. I wish I could talk with my dad about his wartime memories. I wonder what my great-grandmotherвЂ™s life was like as a polygamistвЂ™s wife.
Just as you have a desire to learn more about your ancestors, your posterity will want to know about you and the life you have lived. Legacy writing provides a bond between generations, a rope to guide us through the difficulties that life may deal us, and a thread interwoven into our DNA that helps us to better understand who we are.
Start today to capture your memories for your posterity. Remember, вЂњYour legacy is more than the fame or fortune you may have acquired, it is the life you have lived.вЂќ
To help you capture your stories, I wrote the book Your Legacy, Your Life. It's filled with hundreds of questions and memory words. There are stories written by me and others to remind of the important occasions you've experienced. There are also group activities so you can get your family, friends and even members of your social work started writing their memories.
Your Legacy is the Life You Have Lived.
Good memories, great stories.
Lynda Fisher is the author of Your Legacy, Your Life and I Wish You Happiness: Creating an Ethical Will for the People You Love. She is passionate about the practice of Legacy writing. As a speaker, author and business entrepreneur, she is sharing her message with others throughout North America in hopes they will join her in her crusade to preserve their life stories and family history.