Write your own story

Finally, I’m doing what I have long advised my readers to do. I’m writing my own obituary.
Actually, I’m doing more. I’m writing an expanded life story–not a book, not my memoirs. Just my special memories as they come to me.
What fun it is. And why didn’t I do it earlier?
Where I grew up and who my playmates were. Who my grandparents were, and my relationship with them. Where I got my education. When and where I taught.
Who I married–when and where, and who he was. What my lifetime career was and what awards I have won.
Yes, what awards I’ve won. Thinking back, I remembered my high school awards–one for speed in taking Gregg shorthand at an inter-high school competition. And an award for the highest mark in my school on the New York regent’s exam in economics.
Those insignificant awards were—and still are—very important to me because I was in no way an honour student in high school. But those awards told me that I could succeed if I would study.
Think about your story. What are your earliest memories? The memories you only dimly recall, yet remember well because they are in your family lore.
Here are a few of mine.
I was three years old when we first visited Niagara Falls. My father was carrying me when he tripped and down we both went. I don’t remember the “Falls” but I do remember “the fall.”
And there is one other disastrous early memory I will never forget. I was very small at the time and was playing in the barn one evening while both my parents were milking our cows.
As I skipped around, having fun, I was swinging a short rope over my head when I suddenly began screaming.
I had knocked over some red powder from the windowsill. The powder filled my eyes and I was blinded.
In the dim lantern light, my father saw my red tears as blood and said, “Her eyes are gone!”
Of course, my parents soon knew it wasn’t blood. But I was still blind.
Once in the house, my mother called the doctor, told him what had happened, and said we were coming immediately.
And that reminds me of another story I’ve been told many times. Before my parents got in the car to drive to the doctor, a neighbour (whom I called Uncle Ezra) was in the yard to finish our chores.
As was the custom for everyone at that time, Aunt Clara had been listening on the party line!
What a wonderful, caring community I grew up in.
That’s the way memories recall memories when you begin writing your own story.
Begin writing any way you want. If you choose, begin with, “I was born. . . .” Or start with remembering your high school years—or the highlight of last week.
After all, it’s your story. Tackle it in your own way. But just begin!
Don’t say, “I can’t write.” Everyone can tell their own stories. You’re not trying to write the “great American novel.” You are just jotting down some of your special memories before they get lost.
If you have trouble starting, how about taking a writing class or going to a seminar on how to write your memoirs. Then let the memories flow.
When you are finished, give a copy to each of your family members. And if you are proud of your work, consider publishing it–through a local printer or copy shop or online.
Everybody has a story. What is yours? Record it now.
Do it for your family but, more importantly, do it for yourself.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@cox.net

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