One day, hopefully many days and years in the future, but one day, I will pass away and I will take with me all that I have in my mind. After my husband died six years ago, there were things he knew that ceased to exist. Often questions arise that I don’t know the answer to, but my husband did. Unfortunately, he took the knowledge with him and it is now lost. In my opinion, one of the most important things that seniors can involve themselves with, is the recording of the knowledge that they possess to be passed on to future generations.
There is much everyday information that each individual holds within their mind that is not known to anyone else; little things that don’t seem to be of much importance. Still they are what make an individual unique. I try to keep a journal. I have many volumes of journals. One day maybe one of my great, great grandchildren will pick up one of my journals and will glimpse a piece of me. Maybe my journals will only collect dust, but what if just one person finds value in even just one of them and opens their pages and learns a little something about me. In that moment, while my handwriting is being read, a piece of me will come alive in the mind of he who reads my words.
Here are some things you can do to pass on your history:
· Keep a journal
· Record your life story
· Make a record of your genealogy
· Keep a record of your financial accounts
· Have a will
Keeping a Journal
Some people purchase expensive journals to write in, others use just ordinary notebooks, a few record a brief note on a calendar. I like to use a nice journal. Writing in a journal can become a habit. Some people like to write in the mornings about the day before events, others like to write in the evenings. Some people write every few days, others write once a week a summary of the week’s events. Not all journals or diaries are used to record daily events; some are used to record emotions, feelings, or past experiences. I became writing a journal as a young person after reading the book “Diary of Anne Frank” and have had seasons of being devoted to writing and eras of recording very little. Still, the journals I have are precious to me.
Recording Your Life Story
If you can still write, or have access to a computer, then start writing your life story. If you can no longer write, then ask someone to write down or record your life story as you tell it. Include in your life story the date of your birth and dates of other important events. Include the names of your parents and siblings. The places you lived, the schools you attended, what you were doing on the day of any historical events, etc. Make it personal and interesting.
Make a Record of Your Genealogy
Start with yourself, your spouse, and your children. Then work your way back as far as you can; your parents and siblings, the siblings and parents of your spouse, your grandparents and uncles and aunts and as many cousins as you can. Write down all that you can remember and then begin looking for information supporting what you know. Genealogical research can be very rewarding. Record their birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates. Write down any stories you know about their lives, and then search for events in their lives that might add to a life story in places such as census, military, and obituaries.
Keep Your Financial Records
One of the hard things a spouse has to deal with when their mate dies is the handling of all the financial matters alone. To aid the surviving spouse, or children, in these matters it is well to have all financial papers organized together with the information needed to tend to matters. Today most accounts, even simple phone accounts, have usernames and passwords that must be known to handle daily functioning. Though these passwords must be kept safe, it is wise to have a trusted family member who can take over keeping these accounts current if for some reason you are not able to.
Have a Will
Once a will is needed it will be too late to make a will. That family heirloom you own which you want your grandson to receive may not go to him if you don’t have it written down. Writing a will is not all that hard. What is hard is to not procrastinate the writing of it.