After moving into a retirement home a year ago, it soon became apparent that everyone here has a story to tell.
My wife and I have heard these stories mostly told during a meal by more than a hundred people, many of them pushing 90 and a few shuffling past the century mark.
Last summer I interviewed and wrote a story about a woman who still jogged up and down the hall here at the retirement home prior to celebrating her 102nd birthday in June.
Unfortunately, many of these stories will soon disappear because no one has taken the time nor has made an effort to record them in some form.
This led me to suggest that the five members of our retirement home writing group consider creating memoirs, maybe even self-publishing them.
Previously we were being assigned a topic and writing several hundred words that we shared during our weekly meetings. Good exercises but after a year of this I wondered whether we should tackle something more meaningful.
“Let’s each write a memoir,” I suggested.
The response was positive.
So, I suggested that each of us return to class next week with a list of a dozen or so moments or events that have impacted our life. This is another way of describing how the epiphany can be used to organize a memoir.
In the weeks that follow, each of us can write and share a chapter about our life.
Some of us have written memoirs based on various aspects of our lives. In my case, I wrote and self-published a memoir based on my three decades of teaching. “Confessions of a Professor” is still available via Amazon books.
Although I have written about other aspects of my life, I decided to write a memoir based on my life from birth through high school.
I was four or so years late in arriving on a Kansas wheat farm, decided to become a writer before I began first grade, made a life-changing decision at age 10, became a printer’s devil in junior high, learned to fly with eagles while leaning to type and skipped my senior year of high school.
I figure that grist will more than keep me busy for a dozen or so weeks as I meet with retirement home writers during the summer.
I discovered something else about writing during the past year in this retirement home: Many people have not written nor recorded information needed to create an obituary. (I’ve been asked to help write several.)
You don’t have to write a memoir to accomplish this task, but for goodness sake — or for the sake of your survivors — record the names of your parents, where and when you were born, the date of important events in your life and the names of survivors. Then share that information with a family member before shuffling off this mortal coil, walking into the sunset, or whatever.