When I tell people that I’m a personal historian, they usually say something along the lines of “that’s so cool.” Either that or “what the heck is that?” And then when I explain that families hire me to interview and record their loved ones as they share their stories and memories, creating a lasting family legacy gift, they go on to say, “that’s so cool.”
Most people really like the idea of saving and sharing stories. Many people revere their parents and as they age, they realize just how wise their parents truly are. It’s not if they’d like to have these recorded stories but more of a matter of when. “Someday” seems to be the leading timetable for when to get stories captured.
Life is hectic, your parents are in good health, they lead busy lives, and consequently the idea of recording their stories seems years away. And perhaps that will be the case for you and your family. Unfortunately, I often hear about loved ones who passed away unexpectantly. Those life-altering times when things didn’t go as planned. So, how do you know when it’s the right time?
Here are a few guideposts you might consider:
Do your parents find themselves going to more funerals than weddings?
Have they recently had a close friend pass away?
Has there been a health scare that they’ve gotten through but could have turned out very differently?
Are their grandchildren grown or perhaps great-grandchildren are in the near future?
Have you been away from them for a time and when you reconnect you notice that “they’ve aged.”
Do they need help with household chores or repairs – things they used to do routinely?
Are they noticeably more forgetful than they used to be?
Have they lost a spouse or are they the primary caregiver of an ailing spouse?
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. In truth, the best day to start your personal history is today. For all of us, our memories fade over time. The detailed recollections of our childhood fade every year. However, considering the above questions might prompt you to get your parents (or grandparents) stories preserved in the near future. We can always go back and add to the stories later. What you can’t do is capture the stories once the person is gone. Those memories that are uniquely his or hers, go with them unless they are recorded and preserved. Plus, if you preserve stories today, you can enjoy them today as a family. If you have follow-up questions after hearing their story, you can simply go to them and ask. The creator of the story is still around for clarification.
Wisdom is a gift. Save it today. Share it forever.