Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
Time and Family History Month
Once again it’s October—Family History Month. Now is the time to begin thinking about writing your life story. As we get older, most of us think about writing our life story, but how many of us get past the thinking stage?
Each us has unique memories and a unique perspective on life. Unless we take time to record our story it will disappear forever with our last breath. Every family historian longs to find a journal or memoir left by an ancestor that provides insight into that one’s life. Each of us will one day be an ancestor. Now is the time to do our descendants a favor and begin to write our story.
A human failing is the tendency to think that one of these days we will do all the things we want to do, but the sad truth is time has a way of running out when we least expect it. With so many demands on our time, we succumb to the tyranny of the urgent—urgent things get done while more important things are postponed—and eventually the time comes when it’s too late.
If you’re not sure how to start writing your story, Pima County Community College offers a class in Memoir Writing periodically at the Community Performing Arts and Learning Center on Continental Road. The eight week class teaches ". . . writing tips and exercises to help you get your story on paper for future generations to read and enjoy." The current class began October 2 but will likely be offered again in the winter session. Call 625-5063 for more information.
Computer software is also available to help you with the task of writing your story or someone else’s. Personal Historian sells for $29.95 and comes with an extensive library of timelines, historical facts, cultural trivia, and memory triggers to help you organize and put your thoughts on paper. The program may be purchased online at http://www.personalhistorian.com/.
My grandmother used to say, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Before she died in 1971 she told me a lot of stories about her family that led me to a number of genealogical discoveries. Do you have a grandmother or an elderly aunt you’ve been meaning to contact who knows all about your family? Now is the time to take that step.
If your grandparents and aunts are gone, don’t forget about your cousins. Their family memories and memorabilia will differ from yours. Perhaps you are the grandparent or elderly aunt who’s been meaning to organize your family information and share it with a grandchild, a niece or a nephew. It’s not too late to write a letter, send an email, or even make a telephone call.
There will never be a better time than now. I used to put off contacting distant relatives thinking they wouldn’t want to be bothered. I finally learned most were thrilled to be contacted and in fact, just to be remembered. I find people are usually eager to share what they remember and help in the search for common ancestors. Perhaps the information is not entirely accurate, but the clues may be invaluable.
"So," you ask, have I written my story? Well, I must admit it’s on my list of things to do. Four years ago I sat down and wrote six pages about the first ten years of my life. Since then something else is always more urgent—some day I’m going to get back to it. Perhaps this month is a good time to start.
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29 October 2008
29 October 2008