Why is it that you often learn more about a person in his obituary than you ever did previously? Just this week, two men we've known for many years passed away. On the same day and near the same age.
I never knew that one of them had been a teacher or that he had been a newspaper editor or that he researched and kept records of baseball statistics from old-time players. I was aware of many things in his life over the past 37 years that Ken and I knew him but not those earlier years. Nor did I know about his baseball stats hobby.
Maybe some members of his own family didn't know all those things either, or if they did, only knew the surface of each phase of his life. It's for this reason that I so often urge people to write down their family stories.
Wouldn't it have been nice if this man had written about the five years that he taught school, or the even fewer years in which he was a newspaper editor. There must have been many stories he could have written and left for his children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren to read. In reading stories about his early years, they would come to know him from a young man, or even a boy, all the way up to the later years.
Writing your family stories is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family. Let them follow the tracks you made through life. I can hear someone saying now But my life was boring. Nothing happened worth reading about.
Not true. Because you are a family member, the things you did, the places you lived, the jobs you held--all are of interest. If you include descriptions of the schools you went to, the church you attended, the neighborhoods and houses you lived in, you'll leave a picture of a bygone era. I grew up in an apartment that was part of a very large building. There were around 60 apartments, and the neighbors were such a part of my life. Any story about me is going to include some of them.
You don't have to write continuously. If you only write one a month, it's better than none at all. Don't just tell the stories at the family dinner table. Write them so you can leave a priceless gift to those you love.