by Julie McDonald Zander
As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to grow nostalgic, reflecting on precious memories of time spent with parents and siblings—or even children—who have passed away.
It’s tough to become an orphan, no matter your age. I’m grateful I recorded my parents’ life stories before they died, but it’s never to late to celebrate your parents’ lives—and their influence on you and your children.
How? It’s quite simple, really. Think about your mother or your father. Then simply put pen to paper and start writing or tap out your memories on a keyboard.
Don’t worry about the spelling, grammar, or words you use. It doesn’t have to be perfect or neat. It just needs to recorded. You can always polish the prose later.
For now, just write. Start with this: “My mother …” or “My father …”
Here are questions to help you begin.
What did your mother look like? Was she tall? Short? Round? Slim? What color was her hair? Did she wear it short or twisted into a bun? What color were her eyes? What kind of clothes did she wear?
Did she ever talk about her childhood? What did she say? Where did she attend school?
Do you know how your parents met? Did you ever hear about their dates? Do you remember hearing anything about their wedding?
Did your mother work outside the home? How do you think she felt about the work she did? Do you know how much money she earned?
Describe your mother’s character—what was her personality like? Was she quiet? Outgoing? Feisty? Did she laugh a lot? Or was she a serious woman? Did you ever see her cry? What, if anything, made your mother angry?
Did your mother ever talk about God? Did she have a faith that she shared with you? Did your parents ever talk about politics? Do you know how they voted?
What was your mother’s best trait? What was her worst? What traits do you share with her? Were you close?
Write about places you went with your mother. What did you do together? Camp? Play cards? Picnic? Perform chores?
Do you remember any specific advice your mother gave you? Did she have any sayings that you recall?
Now take those questions and answer them about your father.
When you’ve finished, store what you’ve written with your other important papers. You can polish it later and add photos or publish it in a book. You’ll be amazed at how close you feel to your parents when you immerse yourself in those memories.
If your parents are still living, find a recorder and ask them to share stories of their lives. Record them, so their legacy lives on.
Or hire a personal historian to help you preserve the stories of their lives.
Meet Julie McDonald Zander at Lewis Talk