What I know about my grandparents today are hit and miss memories of people who were already really old by the time I entered into their lives (although around 25 years younger than I am right now). What I truly wish is that I could have somehow captured their life stories while they were still amongst us. Very late in the piece I was able to video my parents and get them to tell at least some of their own stories before a camera. It wasn’t systematic and it wasn’t comprehensive, but at least for them and for posterity we have that.
And while some may think this is shameless advertising, I will bring this to your attention because my son has put together a business idea so remarkable that it would be a major error of omission not to let you know this business of his exists as we head into the Christmas-present season. And what we have here is something that will be as much a potential treasure for those who receive the gift as it is for those who give the gift to others.
My son has begun a business in which anyone at all can be guided through a process at the end of which they have written their own entire life story which has then been published as a book with as many photos and artefacts from the past included as those who are actually doing the writing have the presence of mind to include. Everyone, it is said, has one great story in them. Most people do not know how to get that story down onto paper. This is how it can be done. And if those to whom you give this gift are not happy to do the writing themselves, this will provide you with the opportunity to sit with them, you at the keyboard, and hear them tell their own life story while you record it for yourself, and for every descendant who will be forever grateful for having these details for them to know.
So much of the problem is that we live in a present that we think will be largely unchanged only a few years from now. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is less true than that. Everything will change and what is commonplace now will become a precious recollection of memories of time past. This is a present you will never regret giving, and which everyone who receives this gift will see the opportunity this has presented to them.
The business is A Life Untold, with their web address here. I have read the many letters my son has received from people all across the world who have completed their own autobiographies and are happy beyond imagination that they have been given this opportunity to tell their story to their children and their wider family.
For many it may be the best present they ever give and for as many others it may be the best present they ever receive.