Mum’s chair is empty. It no longer is the place where Mum sits waiting for me to ring or to walk through the door. The chair does not have the same smiling face and caring eyes that once occupied its space and its arms do not reach out to me as it once seemed they did. No-one asks me how I am or what is really happening to me. The chair no longer looks inviting. It is just a chair.
I am so glad I took the time to write Mum’s life stories a few years ago when she was healthy. I tried to capture her spirit, her soul and the wisdom of her life messages as I knew one day, I would need them. Friends try to support me – but it’s not the same. They don’t know me as well as Mum did, and they don’t care as much as Mum did and they don’t love me as much as Mum did.
Life Story Books
‘It takes a while’ they told me, and some days are better than others. On those other days, I sit with my books on Mum’s life – Mum’s ordinary life that was so extraordinary. I hear Mum telling me her stories as if she is sitting next to me. I laugh at the funny one-liners she continually offered to all she met – ‘come to lunch’, ‘a little drink won’t hurt’, ‘all things pass’, ‘cherish the moment’.
So many people ring me wanting to record their loved one’s life story but many don’t ring back. Perhaps it is the cost as it is a labour intensive job. Perhaps it is the work as it is a lot of work and takes time. Perhaps they are just too busy with all the important things that make life today busy. Often, they ring back and say, ‘It’s too late, I should have…’ ‘What can you do?’
Life stories are so much more than facts. They are a legacy of understanding, support and personal identity. They enable the soul of the person to live on and family history to be preserved. They facilitate family connectedness through the generations and give insight into perspective on a life journey and context on the social fabric of the environment.
A Life Story is Inspirational
A Life Story is inspirational and transforming for the narrator or writer as well as for the reader. It’s not about the accuracy of the facts and it is not about shaming or blaming someone who has been a burden. A Life Story is about the truth of a person’s perception and interpretation of their life. Some people use their life story to heal or become reconciled to a trauma; others will use it to validate their experiences and self-esteem, while others just want their memory preserved.
That’s what I wanted, to remember Mum as she was, to hear her voice when I read the words. To have a reference for the great-grandchildren to go and sit and soak up her memory and feel her presence and the love she had for all. Information is a powerful force and how would you guess what difference it will make to a great-great-great-grandchild, or a relative or friend.
The saddest thing about life stories is that it can be too late. Today is the day to start your process on your life or your parent’s life.