If Only Someone Had Helped Them Write Their Stories
Oh, I wish I had been old enough to act as my grandparents’ biographer when they were still living. They shared snippets of their lives when I was a child — the hands-on wisdom of hardworking and self-sufficient people. They navigated the hardships of the Great Depression and numerous wars, but also the satisfaction of building a family legacy.
I loved to listen to their stories, but don’t remember all the details. Back then, I simply didn’t understand that these stories would be lost to time.
Their Work Ethic was Legendary
If only my grandmother had left behind a robust journal about her life as the mother of five in an era when everything was done by hand — washing, quilting, cooking, baking, gardening, canning, sewing, and cleaning. We have her recipes, but not the details of how she managed her time and the precious moments that filled her days.
I wish my grandfather had chronicled his success as a second-generation Swiss American in a remote region of the U.S., and how he started several businesses (lumber, dairy, tire shop) without a formal education. The tire shop is still in business to this day, but not the lumber mill or the dairy farm. The details were swallowed up and forgotten, despite the fact those businesses supported a large family and served the community.
I often wonder how my grandparents managed to care for their parents (my great-grandparents) who lived under the same roof in their golden years—a multi-generational household, each contributing something to the equation, including the medical predicaments inherent in old age (many not formally diagnosed and treated holistically).
Yes, my grandparents accomplished so much and I hold them dear to my heart — as well as fuzzy memories of what they said and how they articulated their journeys. How wonderful if they had left behind a manuscript of their feelings and impressions and tips and encouragement.
But … they didn’t.
A Biographer Captures Legacies
The beauty of a legacy book is that it chronicles the past and benefits future generations. It preserves a family’s history, but can also document important moments in time — the presidents in office and world news and local ordinances that affected life “on the farm” or “in the city.”
These time portals transport us to our roots. Many legacy books unveil a family’s ancestry from the Old World to our American shores — the crossing of the Atlantic and the Ellis Island experiences that morphed original family names into their modern variations. After all, the mad rush of processing immigrants who could not read or write in their native tongues, not to mention English, caused many “phonetic” spellings of surnames.
Legacy books can also focus on the homesteads that sprang up on the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Midwest — and how our ancestors became shopkeepers and pioneers and ranchers. Or, perhaps they utilized the talents they already had as blacksmiths and carpenters and farmers.
A Biographer Captures “The Now”
Legacy books can also focus on the current state of the family and the experiences of the most recent generation. Perhaps you want to expand on your experiences as a teacher, your military service, or your philanthropic work. As “modern” as the world is today, just imagine how it will evolve in future generations. How lovely it would be for our descendants to “look back” at the year 2019, 2020, or 2021 and understand what life is like in this particular era.
Do you have a true life adventure you’d like to document? Is your family legacy waiting to be written?
I am a professional legacy book editor and biographer who captures your story in a beautiful manuscript. I ghostwrite memoirs for posterity and to preserve a backstory that would otherwise be lost to time.