My father once escaped, naked, from a prison camp with another guy. Actually, he was taken prisoner and escaped twice, with others. He was a soldier in the British army. And that’s all I know.
I don’t know where he escaped from or what year it was. I don’t know who he escaped from, or who he escaped with.
Why? Because every time I asked him to tell me more, he said, ‘you don’t want to know more about my life, my life’s boring. It’s just my life.’
Oh Dad. Your life was pretty damn interesting, to me and I think it would have been to my sons, and eventually, their children. But I don’t have your story.
I grew up to be a writer and fifteen years ago my big, tough on the outside, but soft on the inside Daddy suddenly died.
I carry snippets of his stories within me and will share them the best I can with my kids. I’ll talk about him for the rest of my life, because for me this keeps his memory alive.
So what about your story? Have you gotten it down on paper or recorded it somehow yet? Why not? Do you think it’s boring? Do you think those details don’t matter? I’ve got news for you – your story does matter. The details of your life, all of them, are important.
One day someone may want to know the date that your Aunt Molly died, or the gritty details of that car accident, or just why on earth you sold that house? They may want to know exactly how you met your beloved – what he or she looked like, what drew you to them. They may want to know what your mother was like, what you remember about her … her smell, her food, her funny sayings.
These small details are precious and make up our heritage. They matter because they were leading towards us – our very existence. And in some small way they have influenced who we are – our passions and dreams.
I write people’s life stories, and it is a heartwarming privilege to spend time alongside another humans, hearing about their life. Our stories connect us to each other – people are interested in other people’s stories because we all have them. I am no exception. I love knowing how people see the world, and why they see it that way. I love knowing their backstories, their successes and so-called mistakes. They all matter. And so I’m lucky enough to witness them and transform them into written stories for other people who care.
Where have you come from? Who were your parents, grandparents, great grandparents? Who did you want to become? What helped you or stopped you from becoming that person? What are the important things that happened to you through your life? What brought you the most happiness? What did you grieve? Who did you love?
These are the details that we must preserve, so that we can connect with you when you’re gone. These details help us reach back to the past, to more clearly understand our present.
Charlotte Squire writes people’s life stories, AKA memoirs. With 20 years experience as a writer, she runs a small communications agency in Golden Bay, New Zealand. charlottesquire.wordpress.com