My husband’s grandmother used to tell stories about when she learned to drive a car. After her husband’s death, her sister pushed for her to keep her independence — which meant learning how to drive a car. She had never needed the skill of driving when her husband was alive, and the duress of learning to drive a car as an older person was overwhelming for her and her family. She would often go south of town to practice. When she’d leave her house to go practice, she didn’t realize she had to look behind her to check for traffic before backing the car out from her driveway onto the street. She said her husband didn’t turn around when he took the car out (he probably used the side and rearview mirrors), so she didn’t think she needed to. Needless to say, she was whacked many times by oncoming traffic.
Clever stories that go along with my husband’s grandmother’s learning-to-drive experiences are rather entertaining. These stories will be forever cherished and retold by her family, but if she would have written her legacy down, some of the pieces of the puzzle wouldn’t be missing, as well as many of her other colorful anecdotes.
That’s why it’s important to write about yourself and your own legacy. Who better knows you? Your personal story can be made into less or more than it should be if someone else is left to tell it. Oftentimes your legacy can be left ambiguous to readers if someone else puts a biased twist on your life.
There are different seasons of your life that should each be a part of your legacy. Your childhood should contain memories of laughter and play. Hopefully these can be such things as games you played, what pets you had and the friends you had. Did you have any sickness? Who took care of you? There are several questions you can answer about your childhood.
Your elementary years can leave a great impression on your legacy. The recollection of hobbies, special family moments, odd jobs you held, food you liked, and what electronics adorned your home can give light to what life was like for you growing up. Make sure to also share what you liked best about school.
The teenage years are unique to you and will show your legacy what your dreams were, what your loyalties to schools and friends were like, and what your adventures of youth were. Tales of teenage wisdom can be delightful to look back on for both you and your posterity. Tell about your friends and the activities shared. Proms, sports, classroom activities, hall visits and getting into trouble (hopefully less serious) can all spark curiosity in potential readers. Did you bury your nose in a book or were you more social? Did you join the military or go to college?
Your more mature years include the years when you got married, started a family and began a career. You have watched or will watch your children grow up, and maybe even grandchildren became or will become part of your life. You could talk about your career and what you did. Talk about your marriage or your children’s marriages from your perspective. What was your spouse doing during this time? How did you cope with any possible deaths in your life?
When you begin to write about your many memories, thoughts will begin to flow freely. If you feel you cannot write them down as quickly as your mind runs, a tape player might help. Record your story out loud first. Taking an hour of time to do this important task will open your memories and lend your legacy to the future.
These are some simple ways to begin your life story. Your influence can be far reaching into the future as your story is told correctly from your viewpoint and is written down by you. Lend your posterity your legacy, because it is of great worth to all who come after you.
Dori Wright has a personal passion to help others start learning their family trees by doing genealogy. She has both bachelors and masters degrees in education and has spent more than 33 years researching genealogy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.