Looking at my Dad lying in the hospital bed, unable to talk due to the recent stroke he’d had, I could only be thankful that some years ago we had had a particular conversation.
We were sitting outside in their beautiful garden in France, under the shade of the tree, listening to the birds twittering away, and sipping gin and tonic while the supper was bubbling away on the stove inside.
‘My memoirs?’ My Dad looked at me. ‘Who’d want to read those?’
‘I would, Dad! So would the others!’ I was referring to my 3 siblings, and at that point my Mum joined in, encouraging him.
He looked a bit bemused. ‘Well, I suppose I might. What do you want to know about?’
‘You know, all those stories, some of which we know, but I bet there’s loads of others that will come to mind as you start to think about the different things that have happened to you. You have had an unusual and interesting life, you know!’
The subject changed after that, but as I sat there in the hospital I just felt grateful that he had taken the hint and had created a 15 page document of the story of his life. At 85, we hoped he would recover well from the stroke, but right now he knew what he wanted to say but his mouth couldn’t form the words, nor his right hand hold a pen, or be able to type on a key pad. Not to mention the cognitive ability required to compose sentences, remember stories in his life, or create them in a way that could bring them alive.
Creating your memoirs is something that doesn’t necessarily make it to the top of your priority list very often, and certainly not in retirement, which often appears to be busier than when you were working. But it is worth taking the time to do so, and here’s why:
- The story of your life is a vital piece of your descendants’ background. If you want your grandchildren or other family members to understand your part in their lives, and thus understand themselves more, then sharing these stories is essential. Only you know what really went on behind what’s happened in your life so far.
- The story brings you alive, even after you have died. But you have to do it now, otherwise it’s too late.
- ‘I wish I’d asked!’ is a familiar refrain of a family member who has died. If you don’t want your loved ones to be saying this, then tell them now.
- It creates a tangible document or object that your family can identify with you, and through which you live on.
- You can pass on lessons learned and share your wisdom, and they are there for eternity.
- It’s available for whoever wants to access you and your life, whenever they are ready.
- You get to reflect and appreciate what you have achieved and experienced in your life.
It can be hard to get started on this kind of thing, as when we think about our lives there’s usually so much that has happened that it can seem overwhelming to record any of it. So most people, while thinking this is a good idea, just don’t do it. And then of course, it really IS too late – but it’s not you that has the regrets, as you’ll not be here any more; it’s your loved ones that are left behind.
So here’s 3 pointers to get you going, to make sure your children, grandchildren and friends are never the ones saying ‘I wish I had asked….’
Write down or record:
- the story behind one of your favourite belongings
- what happened and how you felt when you had a big change in your life
- what one regret you had and why
And if you’d like to make this more fun, or you need some help, join me and lots of others in my upcoming free 5 day Challenge ‘Start Your Living Legacy’. Click here for more information: http://bit.ly/2gGkbF4
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