Don't wait to learn everything you want to know about your family history and your ancestors. Gather the stories, customs, and traditions of your family while your elders are alive. Read More
Since your grandparents are probably fairly elderly, don't wait to glean the trove of information! My grandfather was born in 1900, and we waited too long. Start now!
I have a book that was written by a distant cousin of my father. The book tells the story of the cousin's life from childhood onwards until his 80s and was written specifically to provide the cousin's children and successors with the facts, whys and wherefores about the cousin's life.
I have a scrapbook that belonged to my paternal grandmother. As well as her own snippets that she wanted to keep, it contains sketches and paintings that her friends and family had drawn/painted directly onto the pages.
As children we only really know our parent(s) after they became parents. A few years before my father died, and whilst he and I were out walking together, I asked him to tell me about his life long before he married my mother. I found it a fascinating insight and by the time he finished telling me, I understood him so much better and felt the bond between us had grown stronger because of it.
I have an interest in local history. Last year, I interviewed a woman of 92 who was born in the town where I live now and has lived here almost all of her life, apart from a few years during the 1930s. I know she really enjoyed the experience of chronicling the unfolding story of her life.
When I was a child, I decided that if I should become a mega-star, then it might be of help to biographers to have some insight into my way of going about things. To give them something to go on, I used to date the pictures in a book after I'd finished colouring them. The most recent date 1958 may not be that long ago in the scheme of things but it helps me remember where I was and how I was feeling at the time.
What an interesting response! Thanks for sharing (as they say in AA. Don't ask me how I know this--I just do.)
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Abigail Brenner, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and other books.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?