Why writing your stories is an important part of your legacy.
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The story goes something like this:
A young girl was at school when a storm was approaching, and all the children were sent home. Before she could get safely to her house, a tornado hit. It lifted her off the ground and she ended up hanging by the sash of her dress from a utility pole.
As she hung there waiting to be rescued, she was mostly worried her mother would be mad that she’d ruined her new dress.
It’s such a dramatic story that it’s hard to believe! And it makes me want more details—how old was the girl? Was her mother upset? How far did she have to walk? Who rescued her?
The details are gone—because the girl in the story, my grandmother, is gone. It’s a story I’ve only heard secondhand.
I wish she’d written it down somewhere! I’ve heard other wonderful stories about my grandparents, like the time my grandfather and a friend drove a Model-T across the United States. They are stories I’d love to tell my grandchildren, but the details have faded and the stories are so weak without them!
Recording our memories is the best way to ensure they will last. Luckily for grandparents, there are lots of ways to achieve this! Today we’re going to share five creative ways to leave a written legacy.
Start an informal journal.
This is the simplest and cheapest of methods. Get a notebook or a pretty blank book, and start recording the important stories of your life. Not sure what to include? Google “Grandparent journal prompts” and you’ll find lots of ideas. I like the list here. Though it’s written for grandmothers, it’s just as pertinent for grandfathers.
Write your grandchild letters.
Start a tradition of writing letters to your grandchild to give them when they are older. Here’s one suggestion:
Each year on your birthday, write a letter telling them a story about your life. Each year on their birthday, write a letter telling them something about their life. And each year on their parent’s birthday, write a letter telling them a story about their mom or dad. This will turn into a beautiful collection of stories.
Would this work for you? If not, come up with your own routine!
Send their future self emails.
One Mimi set up an email account for her granddaughter. She sends her regular emails with thoughts, memories and bits of family history. When her granddaughter is 18, she’ll get the password and be able to read all the stories. (If you decide to do this, make sure you log into that account from time to time so it isn’t deactivated.)
Buy a journaling book.
Fillable grandmother journals and grandfather journals abound! These books are an easy and attractive way to record facts and stories that should be saved. They vary in design and details, but they all provide a framework for recording the details of your family history.
Here are just a few:
Get professional help.
Storyworth is an email service that sends you a question once a week. You simply hit “Reply” and respond to the question with a story. At the end of the year, your stories are bound into a beautiful book. You can sign up here--at the time of this post, it's $99 for a year and one book. You can order additional books to share with other family members.
There are also services to help you record your memories by video or audio, which we will cover in the future. But whatever way you choose, start now!
How will you record your stories?