You’ve been visiting your elderly parents recently and while in their company you realize how much the world has changed since they were young. Perhaps you have a father who was a soldier in World War II or the Korean War. Or perhaps your mother was a “Rosie the Riveter” who worked in the war effort. Your opportunity to capture their stories for yourself and your family is becoming more and more limited.
Where do you start when you decide you want to document their stories? You may have already asked them gently to start writing down the stories for posterity. Did it work?
No, there has been no progress since you asked your elderly parent to write down his or her stories. “What, my story isn’t very interesting to anyone. We all worked during the war.” Or, “I just did what I was expected to do. There is nothing interesting in my war experience.”
You have several options, depending upon you time and interests. First, you can capture the stories yourself during you next visit. Of course, you can. But have you done that? No, you fixed the faucet for your mother. Or, perhaps you all went out to a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Or, your own children provided the grandparents’ entertainment during the visit by showing off their video game skills. Perhaps you own a video camera but your mother or aunt just doesn’t want her picture taken. “My hair doesn’t look right.” Or, “Let’s wait until tomorrow, I want to catch up on my TV shows this afternoon.”
In this common situation a personal historian can help you, either by handling part of the process or by taking on the entire process. If you choose Family Times Remembered to help you document your elder’s experiences, we will work with you, as the client, to first determine the scope of your desired product. Because we document the interview with digital audio or use our personal computer to type notes, most family members feel comfortable during the interviews. We can (and actually prefer to) interview your relative without you being there. Interviewing an elder without any distraction usually provides us the starting point we need for developing a book that your family will be proud of.
The important thing, though, is to get started now! Time is important when writing personal and family history. We all want to have the stories and memories placed in a book or on a CD so that we can share them with future generations.