Writing a Memoir: or, down the line, who will care how I live my life?

Our daughters’ weddings were beautiful occasions, and traditional in many aspects but unconventional in their relative simplicity.  The girls dubbed them ‘casually elegant’. There were the usual lovely long white gowns, bridal bouquets, and receptions, but not a lot of fuss or elaborate preparations. (Our son’s wedding was more formal but we didn’t have a lot to do with its planning.)

As I compose this post it is well after 2:30 a.m. The house has become quiet. We’re housing the spillover of family that is gathering for a granddaughter’s wedding. Two of the three families who will be staying with us through the weekend are here and have settled in for the night; the third will arrive later today. In addition to sharing in the marriage of two special people, there is the precious time of being together with all the family and friends (170 of them!) who will gather to celebrate the milestone. Being together brings present joy and provides memories to treasure.

X TeacupsOne afternoon last week we were rummaging through boxes of items from the basement, unwrapping pieces of vintage china and crystal to use at the reception. Each piece brought memories of long-ago times when they had adorned the tables of other generations now gone. Stories were shared as each fragile piece was carefully washed and dried. I commented that our memory is a wonderful thing… a God-given blessing… but something that often we take for granted.

X Crystal

We don’t expect to forget the important events that make up our lifetimes, but our minds age along with our bodies and there is no guarantee that in later years we’ll always be able to remember details that we’d like to pass along to younger family members.

Like the Royal Crown Derby tea set that belonged to an aunt who died over forty years ago, and had come to us with the admonition that she would like it to remain in the family to be passed down through future generations of the Garvins.

X RCDerby

Or like the silver bowl with its latticed insert that used to hold nodding blooms of roses from my husband’s parents’ garden … from the very rose bed that a gathering of church young people danced around at a party one summer evening, beating a circular pathway into the grass of the manse’s backyard.

X Silver

We write memoirs for various reasons. Sometimes we want to share remembered antics and anecdotes publicly because we’re storytellers. Sometimes we simply want them recorded as personal recollections, a heritage for our families. We might not think anyone in future generations will care about what seem like insignificant happenings in our lives, or about the eccentricities of dearly departed relatives.(Where DOES that term come from??? Why are they ‘dear’ when they depart???) But my own experience has been one of regret that I didn’t sit down with my parents and grandparents to record some of the stories I’d vaguely overheard in fragments of conversations but later couldn’t recall. Those stories went to the grave with them and are now lost forever. I don’t want my life’s memories to suffer the same fate. Maybe nobody down the Garvin line will care, but if they don’t, they won’t be compelled to read my words. If they DO care, they will be extremely grateful that I took the time to record them for their benefit.

Such stories are part of who we are, and therefore part of the heritage that belongs to future generations. They nourish the roots which will enrich their lives.

Have you written any kind of memoir, autobiography or journal? If so, is it published? What are your intentions for it?

X Pitcher

~

“For whatever was written in former days
was written for our instruction,
that through endurance and
through the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.”

[Romans 15:4]

~  ~  ~

9 thoughts on “Writing a Memoir: or, down the line, who will care how I live my life?

  1. S. Etole says:

    So many of your dishes are similar to ones I have inherited from my grandparents and parents. What a joyful occasion for you to share them.

    • Carol says:

      I agree, Susan! They’ve been packed away for so many years (since a move over 20 years ago) that I’d almost forgotten what there was. It was like unwrapping surprises on Christmas morning.

  2. So much has changed. Having only sons, I now wonder who gets my mother’s things when I pass. My DILs seem to be a different generation where heirlooms don’t hold the same special sentiments, especially from their MIL.

    • Carol says:

      Things have changed even in my own household, as my tastes evolved away from ‘the fancy stuff’ and more towards pottery and stainless steel. I still appreciate the beauty and the histories they represent, but I prefer my coffee in a mug!

      It’s nice that my one DIL actually likes the china tea set and has said she will be happy to have it stay in her ‘Garvin’ home, and our daughters have claimed a few special pieces. But I’m trying not to be too sentimental and will probably sell the rest.

      • pastordt says:

        I’m with you Carol – I bought four colors of fiestaware when we remodeled our kitchen 8 years ago and only use my stainless steel these days. Got buckets of china and silver and don’t have a clue who will want it. But it’s fun to use it once in a great while and remember where it came from – thanks for sharing yours with us. And ENJOY this festive, family weekend.

  3. Most everything I write is in my journal or memoir. I’ve been writing a book about a specific time period of my life when my children were small. It started as a way of telling them the rest of the story…the story they were too young to realize. It’s beginning to morph into other years tho, so I’m at a point of rearranging it all and coming at it from a different perspective. Don’t know if that makes sense – – because actually I’ve confused myself lately with what I’m doing :) Anyway, I’ve just felt strongly about carrying forward family stories that my grandparents shared with me.

    I love your china, Carol ! Have a beautiful family weekend celebrating a new marriage.

  4. J says:

    Write your memories and history for your family. As people get older, they get more interested in genealogy. Someone down the line will be grateful for what you record.

  5. elderfox says:

    I inherited a bounty of items–dishware, china, silverware, furniture, photo-albums, even an iron skillet with lid; and except for the skillet which I continue to use, most of the items are boxed in storage except for those items I gave to my sister. I’ve also given items to dog shows as trophies. I’ve used many pieces for special occasions. And it is very difficult to know what and where to dispose of them, but always hopeful they will find new homes and continued to be cherished. As for writing memories I’ve written them in an assortment of notebooks that have accumulated and need to be put in order…yep, one of these days :)

  6. Darlene says:

    A now my mom’s memories are fading or confused and I wish I had written more of them down when she could remember.

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