You are part of your living family tree. You start out as a tiny bud that grows into a little twig. Then you develop into a branch. Years go by and YOU BECOME A TRUNK with your own branches which, in turn, sprout new buds and little twigs. Your branches become trunks and eventually, inevitably, you become a part of the root system. While you are a trunk, think seriously about fulfilling YOUR TRUNK DESTINY.
After you leave Planet Earth, future members of your family may eagerly research your life to find out vital facets of their heritage. Will you make it easy or difficult for them? It is up to you. I’m not touting complicated genealogy charts. That’s not what I’m into, although if that’s good for you, run with it.
I’m more interested in whether your posterity will really know who you were and what the times were like when you lived and what you believed to be the purpose of your life. If you are getting on in years, do your children and grandchildren realize that you were not always a mom, not always a grandma? You had and still have hopes, dreams, ideals, ideas, problems, and struggles like they have. Don’t you want them to know the real you? Given time, an entire human forest may grow up around your family tree. Do you want to be lost in that forest by failing to pass on your inner, unique identity to those who follow you? You have lived. You matter.
Families differ in their regard for the past. Blessed are you if your parents and grandparents poured into you wonderful stories of your heritage. You have a head start. Appreciate your treasure and record it in some way for your legacy. Perhaps you are like me—when I started looking into my heritage to write my autobiography, I was disappointed that my parents and grandparents left no letters, diaries, records or even anything in their own handwriting about themselves or their roots. They passed on without passing on anything tangible of our heritage. They lived and left without leaving written footprints for me to follow.
I have only my personal, imperfect memories of them, some of which may be colored by my perceptions more than reality. My grandparents and parents could have spoken for themselves even after they left by leaving some record of their life—but they didn’t. I guess they were too busy living and making a living. Now four generations separate them from my great grandchildren. I had to dig in hard ground to find out anything about my ancestry. Like an eager detective, I followed slim clues to see if they would lead anywhere. Thank God they led to a rich treasure! I was amazed, surprised, delighted, and excited with every small gem of the past that I discovered. Sad to say, no matter how deep I dig, I will never be able to recover some parts of our precious heritage which only my forebears knew. These are lost to our posterity.
It was not all their fault, however. When I was young, it didn’t even occur to me to ask about our ancestry or my grandparents’ earlier experiences. I didn’t really care at the time; but I certainly did later. How I regret my youthful thoughtlessness!
Perhaps you think your family members too, especially the younger generations, may not care about their past right now. Children rarely give a thought to their roots when they see their more exciting futures stretching out seemingly open-end before them. Be that as it may, I suggest that it is your responsibility to prepare for the time when they will care. It is up to you to fulfill your trunk destiny and pass on the essence of yourself, what you know of your priceless past, and how important your Christian faith is to you.
Perhaps you’ve never have thought about doing this. On the other hand, you may always have wanted to. So you’re not an experienced writer or published author? Never mind; you are already qualified simply because you have lived. With a word processor at your finger tips, what excuse do you have? You don’t have to chisel into stone like Moses did, or write on papyrus. No one knows your story better than you. I encourage you to go ahead and do it your way. Everyone’s memories are in a personal storehouse. There are ways to stimulate your recall and get your memory juices flowing. The past is gone, but you can bring it back and share it vividly not only with present but future readers.
You don’t need to write a big, fat autobiography or publish your story on a press. It’s your choice what and how much you want to write. Perhaps only a partial memoir of some significant period of your life, your family history, or your faith journey. You may be satisfied to compile your writing in a notebook or folder or some easy, manageable way and then duplicate a few copies at Staples for your family or friends.
Who cares about your story? First of all, you do! You don’t want to be forgotten, do you? By writing your story you are saying to the world: “Here I am. God gave me life. I have lived. I want you to know me. I want to tell you what I went through and how I felt about it.” Who else cares? God does. Since you are a Christian, God considers you a steward of the experiences He brought you through and of what He taught you through them. He gives you a spiritual mandate to pass on those things; it is your opportunity and wonderful privilege. You could let the following verse from Psalm 102:18 serve as your statement for writing. “Let this be recorded for the generation yet unborn, a people yet to be created [so that they] may praise the Lord.”
It is more difficult for some people than for others to speak of their faith openly to family members. You may be more comfortable with putting something on paper. Here’s your opportunity! Such words could be read by family members and others in years to come, even by other generations after you are no longer living.
Writing your life story should be a delightful adventure not a labored, overwhelming task. No one is breathing down your neck insisting that you do it in a certain way or criticize your efforts. What’s not to like? This is your life, you lived it your way, and you are free to write it your way--and have fun doing it!
Leona Choy has published a How-to-do-it book for leaving legacy footprints by writing memoirs: THIS IS YOUR LIFE—WRITE IT! is available through her publishing company, www.goldenmorning.com.