Family memoirs make a meaningful and lasting gift to our loved ones. They give us roots, and a glimpse into ourselves . . . Just think of the stories your parents and grandparents have shared with you. Imagine what they experienced in their lifetime; and what you have in yours. Stories impact us in countless ways; they entertain, intrigue, inspire, and even help us heal in our times of difficulty or grief. There has never been a more poignant time to be recording our family history, from an intimate perspective as well as a broader cultural view. Whether one does this less or more formally, it’s the act of doing and writing that will make the difference for generations to come. My client, Theresa Sherwood, graciously accepted my request to share her journey with you below. It was such a pleasure to work on this with her! Enjoy!
What inspired you to write this book?
My father was an amazing person. In his ninety-seven years, he told many stories of his childhood and life experiences that I could not possibly remember in the detail that he could. I was not considering writing a book; I wanted to have a record for family history to pass down to my children. I asked him to “pen” his significant memories on paper. In March 2016, when my father passed, I decided to type up what he had written. I was overwhelmed with his story. Some things I had heard, and others were eye-opening. It became clear that photos could be added and I could make a book to share with our extended family and friends, many of whom had a fondness and deep respect for my Dad. As I was struggling with the concept of doing this task properly myself, I met Sheri Andrunyk at a networking meeting. Coincidence, I think not!
What do you want others to gain from your book?
I hope that family members and friends will have some insight into my father’s life and success. As I continue welcoming people to Sherwood Farm, I want to be able to share my father’s story with them. He was a great man with lots to share not only about his journey, but also about his approach to life.
What was your creative process for this project?
The creative process was basic, as I mainly followed my father’s notes which had been written here and there over a few years. I had to be a bit creative with piecing the notes together and filling in some gaps. Sheri and her team added the extra flair, ensured accuracy, and completeness of the story. They really guided this process by organizing everything to ensure proper flow. I had to choose from many photos . . . I guess that was creative! I love the cover (back and front) which was a collaborative effort between us all!
Why did you choose the story-telling format you used?
The story-telling format is mostly my Dad’s because of the way he wrote his notes. Poem writing is my addition. I have a crazy knack for writing poems to people I know well. I may have written upwards of thirty for my father over the years. He kept them all. The start of this book was my poem asking him to write his memoirs. I also wrote another at his passing. Sheri helped to pull this together to start and end the book and it works well.
Do you have another book in you?
No idea . . . I’ve got lots of poems!
As you’ll see, Theresa’s writing is refreshing and upbeat. With her permission, here is the poem she shared with her Dad; along with a journal she hoped he would write in to help capture a lifetime of memories. Interestingly, he never did write in the journal, although he did pen his thoughts on random pieces of paper that were obviously intended to honour his daughter’s request.
This Year We Have a Modest Gift
This year we have a modest gift
For you, but yet for us
It’s going to take a little time
But in you we will trust!
This package holds a journal book
On which you are to pen
All the things we ought to know
Of you from way back when
Please pass along a few short tales
Of life and your beginning
Be sure to share your childhood
‘til now when hair is thinning
. . .
And history I’d like to know
About the family tree
Some background on your bros and sis
And what relates to me.
Some silly songs and anecdotes
Ensure you don’t omit
In fact this book may be too small
For all your BULLISH WIT!
. . .
We hope you find this somewhat fun
Old times to reminisce
From us to you we’d like to wish
A Merry Christamis!
So when you are visiting with family and friends this holiday season, I encourage you to enliven the conversations by sharing memories and perspectives that celebrate your loved ones’ stories and your own. Memoirs or family histories can be created in a myriad ways. They can be chronological and/or anthology-like sharing vignettes, little stories about past events or precious moments you want to keep alive . . . They can be about an entire family with several contributors or about one person. Sure, there are more structured formulas for writing certain types of literature. That said, I believe it’s important not to put yourself in a box when you are thinking about writing . . . Explore the edges. Recall your beloved memories, the good and the not-so . . . the ones you appreciated and understood better later in life . . .
If by chance a few tips would still help to get your creative juices flowing, check out chapter 15 of Do You Have a Book in You? It’s all about writing one’s story . . .
If you have special memories you’d like to share, I invite you to do so in the comment section below.
Let’s encourage one another to write and keep our family’s legacy alive!
Wishing you a beautiful holiday season!
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