My dad wrote his life story, mostly about WWII and Korea, when he was 72. It is one of my treasured possessions since it lets me meet him as a young man.
My ragged paper copy was printed on a dot matrix printer, and there are some typos, so in the last year, I retyped it, a page a day. I wanted our sons to have access to it and learn about their grandpa and grandma and also about what society was like during the Depression and when the country was united in the ‘40s and ‘50s. I put the entire manuscript on my website, so if anyone is interested in that time period, you can find it under Special Section (https://vedaboydjones.com/my-story/).
You might want to skip the first few pages listing who was on the covered wagon trip from Lead Hill, Arkansas, to Oklahoma. It lists all Dad’s brothers and sisters (he was one of 11 kids), and that’s of interest to me, but likely not to others.
My dad had never written anything more than a letter, but his memoir is written in the style of him talking aloud. I can hear him as I read his memories. He was a funny guy, and his writing style reflects his sense of humor. For instance, he describes his brothers lifting the cook stove out of the covered wagon so Grandma could cook supper. “No one had thought to stop by Quik-Mart for paper plates and plastic forks.” So of course, the dishes had to be washed.
My next project (after I do yet another revision of my latest novel) might be, maybe-a-maybe, could possibly be a memoir. My sons have no idea who I was when I was a teenager or a young single gal working for a living or a newlywed. I suspect they saw me only as their mother, the policeman who made them do their homework, make their beds, practice piano, and put their clothes in the hamper or they would not be laundered.
Now when they think of me, they probably see me as the old gal who can’t figure out how to get closed captioning on the TV or find the entire computer desktop display that disappeared one day. They’ve become my tech guys and the ones who clean out my gutters and change furnace filters when they’re in town.
Is it important that they know me? I guess not. That’s mostly an ego thing, isn’t it? But their memories of living with me, which mostly start around age 5 and go to age 18, range merely 13 years. And let’s face it, from about age 12 on, kids rarely listen to much their folks say. I want them to know what life was like in the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s.
I want them to know that what they are experiencing now is not something new. Surroundings change, tech changes, but emotions and life’s ups and downs are similar through decades. And we all deal with change—always.
Physical things we value differ vastly from person to person. After my dad departed this world, we divided up his prized coin collection. We put Mom’s fine crystal in an auction. I believe that lifelong collections are for the collectors, not for heirs. But memories fit in a different category.
Why not write down some of the episodes of your life that others may find of value? These days memoirs are the rage, and people read life stories of people they’ve never met, so they might want to read a memoir of someone they actually know.
Retirement is a great time to sit down and write. Do it. Do it now. Reflect on things past. Write down those big moments in your life when you made great decisions and the ones you might like to forget when you were headed down the wrong path and had to turn around and retrace your steps. You don’t have to give away your deep dark secrets, but your personal take on big historical events could be enlightening. What you put on paper for a friend or family member to read may just change a life. It might even be yours.
Brand New Release: The Bachelor Association: A Christmas Story
A few too many deceptions?
Matchmaker Willa Wald, content with her life running the Stonewood Cottages motor court, fills out a sheet on bachelors who take her out to dinner so she can match them with a good wife. Doesn’t she understand that the men are really after her? And why does she secretly fill out a sheet on Lloyd Eldridge, a golf course designer, who checks into Cottage 3? Why isn’t Lloyd up front about his famous parent, pro-golfer Tommy Cantrell? There are many questions to answer before they can see a happy-ever-after in their future.