Writing your memoirs or doing your family tree?

I was invited to participate in a trade show at a retirement village. There were stalls of every commodity and service, from legal assistance to orthotic shoes, travel and mobility scooters. The local library and U3A were there. There was even someone promoting the health benefits of patting chooks!

What we all had in common was introducing the resident retirees to a product or service they thought they knew, but were able to discover something more about it. I at my Creative Text Solutions table was no different.

Creative Text Solutions family memoirs

Catching the eye of passers-by, I asked many of them, ‘Have you written your life story?’ A few had, a number said that their story wasn’t interesting enough (not true!) but most of them answered with an intriguing response – ‘Oh, my wife has already done our family history.’

Genealogy is great fun. You discover things about your family that places them in a historical context and learn about places and events that connect you with a fascinating past.

However, that is not the same as writing your story – your story. For instance, when the gentlemen at the trade show said that their family history was already done, I asked them if their children knew what they wore to school, what their favourite subjects at school were, what were their favourite sports growing up, and was any of this in the family history.

It was a light-bulb moment for some of them. ‘Oh, I see. My story. Well, no one has written that down.’ That is what I offer – a personalised story of your history in your own words. It becomes a precious living historical document as well as a legacy for your family.

The process of writing your life story is not like the hunt for records and documents for a family history project. Over a series of two-hour chats (and perhaps a coffee or two!), I record the stories that flow naturally from a few guided questions and transcribe them. Sometimes I fill the stories in with some extra facts that I research. If you wish, I can even include photos of objects in the story to provide a visual complement to your favourite memories.

If you would like to see the smile of delight on the faces of your grandchildren when they read your story, don’t put off telling your life story now!

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