I just completed reading a lovely book: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. It is in the first person voice of an elderly woman; a remembrance of her life from young adulthood until her senior years. The author describes an ordinary life, one woven with relationships of ordinary people living off the land: a tight community of farmers experiencing the changing world as they saw and lived it.

Although the book evokes a feeling of a memoir, it is fiction though I suspect the author's personal life is reflected within the prose. And though it is lacking in plot--as memoirs are--the character's story of a common life grasps the reader, unfolding truths and conflicts that we all wrangle with within our own lives.

It is a life. And that, alone, is captivating.

Memoirs have grown into a sought after genre for both writers and readers. It is no longer reserved for great movie stars or brilliant leaders. Everyday people are writing their life stories. They are telling, in their own words, their life, their experiences, their thoughts and readers relish the intrigue and commonality of learning from each other's lives.

Now consider this: What if our ancestors, our grandparents and great-grandparents, even our parents, wrote their own memoirs. The stories we struggle to find, handed to us as easy and gently as opening a newspaper on a slow, rainy Sunday; all there for us to soak up and experience and languish in.

How easy genealogy would be!

And so, as we dream of the possibilities we might have had, if only our ancestors had penned their life in story, we should consider an option, one we have complete control over: write our own memoir.

Now is the time to set in motion a written story of your life. I am not suggesting a full-fledge, yearlong novel of a memoir. It does not have to be in any particular form--you are the author of your story and you can write it as you like. But placing on paper (or computer), your life experience is a gift to your family, generations of descendants, and to yourself.

Dates of marriage and births and graduations and anniversaries--all of the information we seek out on our ancestors are certainly a must. But you have an opportunity to fill in the blanks in the story of your life.

There will always be great unknowns of your ancestor's lives, but you have a chance to grasp control of your own story and tell it as you would want your descendants to hear it.

A gift: one that will be precious to your descendants and most definitely--to yourself.

Keep searching for answers,

Cheryl
 


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