A History of You for the Future
By: Kat Spitzer
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know more about your grandparents and ancestors in their own words? Perhaps you wonder where you got that smashing sense of humor, or that inherent ability to pick up difficult crochet patterns, or even the general feeling of elation you get on your sailboat, as if the wind is part of your soul. You are a piece of your own family’s history and much of your character comes from the past. Consider all you would have liked to know about your own grandparents and family memories and take this opportunity to write down or record details about yourself for your own grandchildren and future generations, so that they can establish a connection with you and your interests, goals and feelings.
“Your grandmother used to do the exact same thing,” my dad said to me when I was growing up. I always had mixed feelings about the comment; pride that I had something in common with such a respected woman, and sadness that I could never learn more from her. She died before I was born and I only knew about her through small anecdotes from my father and uncle. I would stare at her picture and wonder, “What were you like?” Even with my other grandmother, who lived until I was 32-years-old, I often wished I had more information about her; a glimpse into her life as a younger person. I yearned for more information about my family history on a personal level that went beyond the mere facts of birthdates, number of children and housing information that you find in family tree searches.
Realizing that there were a number of questions that my grandparents should have been asked, it’s now too late. It would have been such a treat to see a more documented account of their personalities. Hopefully, my own grandchildren won’t experience the same desires. To avoid this lack of knowledge, I plan to set aside time to write down interesting bits of my history. Here are some ideas to tweak memories of the past:
1) What are your hobbies; the activities that bring the most joy?
2) What are you really good at doing? Are you surprised at discovering this ability?
3) What are your favorite family traditions?
4) What goals (both career and personal) have you had? Which ones were accomplished and why? If not accomplished, was there a reason?
5) Where have you traveled? Favorites and least favorites?
6) Were there any stand out moments that impacted your life, or that altered you as a person?
7) What major historical events have you lived through and what were your impressions? What impact did they have on your life?
8) Tell about the loving relationships in your life.
9) Did you have pets?
10) Any regrets in life or moments that should have been done differently?
11) Who or what has been influential in your life? Writers, actors, philosophers, fashion trends, pop culture, political leaders, family members, etc.
These are simply a starting point. Think about all that you would like to know and try to answer those questions for your own grandchildren. Once you have written them down, save them. You can put the information on a disc or in an electronic file and give it to your family members now. You can also keep copies with your important personal documents so that your children, grandchildren or beyond can find the information. It’s also possible to have the questions and answers bound in a book with photographs of you at different stages of your life so that there’s a beautiful reference that can be shared with family members. No matter what form the information takes, the future generations of your family will value and treasure this throughout their lifetimes.
Kat is a freelance writer and author of the Blog, The Happy Hypochondriac (www.happyhypochondriac.com)
She lives in Annapolis with her husband and two children.