Could they ask your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your friends.
Lets face it, everyone in your life knows you in a different context and only you know how each of those has affected you. Only you know, the stories behind your disappointments, Your misadventures, your unrequited love.
Your personal history, your memoirs, though they may seem both trivial or burdensome to you, may one day be needed by your child for them to understand who they are and why they have been raised the way they have or perhaps even who their parent was if you are no longer around to tell them.
I will never forget the call I got from my sister at 1am Anzac day 2003 to tell me that my dad had died from a heart attack. My world shattered and my heart felt as though it had been torn from my chest. While I was not yet an orphan, a child of parents who no longer lived, I was fatherless.
It took me 18 months and many drunken nights before I could see through the haze again. It was time to go on a journey to help understand who this new fatherless me was. I was my fathers son, this much I had been told from childhood but who was he. What did I really know about him, not much it seemed. As everyone I spoke to had different memories of him, from the people who played golf with him, to the people who drank and fought with him and even the people who grew up with him in his village in Fiji. I learned so many things about my dad but not until he was already dead.
Things I would have preferred to learn from him, things I should have learned from him. Things I wish I had been brave enough to ask.
And so I have started to record my own history for the benefit of my children, and I implore you to do the same.
If like me, you don’t have the benefit of an in-house biographer then writing the story of your life may sound as overwhelming to you as it did to me. And so what I did was try to come up with an easy way to do it. I had to find a way to record my life without the experience of knowing how to write a book.
Keep in mind that the purpose for this document was to share my history with my children not to become a best seller on Amazon.
The method I used was to start by typing all the years I’ve lived since my birth down a page. Then underneath each year I typed my school grade until 1989 when I finished. Then of course I start putting in jobs i was in during the following years. In each of these categories, I then start putting memories of people, things i did, places i went, things i learned.
For example, one entry may look like this.
Grade 7 – First year High School – Exeter State High
Missed first week of high school, was living in a foster home in Trevallyn, Launceston. Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger was coming to Launceston Village twin. I was too young to go. This was my first exposure to bodybuilding and I knew immediately that I wanted to learn how to become big and strong, like that Arnold guy in the poster. While in this foster home, I also got to see and hear my very first CD. Brothers in Arms by Dire Straights.
Obviously there’s a lot more information to go in there but as you can see it’s just a diary entry and it reflects on some facts and thoughts about that time in my life that may help my children understand my life a little.
If I’m lucky I will grow to the ripe old age of 100 and watch my grandchildren marry the love of their lives. If not then they will have a record of my story to understand why I tried to teach them the lessons I did.
Then again there may be a more immediate need to share this information with them as they struggle with understanding their own life through the mysteries of adolescence. Either way, my children will know their father. I hope you see some benefit in this for your family too.
Please feel free to share this idea with others who have children of their own. Who knows, even your own parents may have a story or two you don’t know about.