There are times when we are reminded of an innate desire to share who we are with others; to create and leave a personal narrative. Few events touch heartstrings so notably as observing the passing of a loved-one. Early in March a dear woman finished her fight against cancer. Later we paused to remember a grandma on what would have been her birthday. In the midst of it all, International Women’s Day brought forward a multitude of stories about women who left their mark on the hearts of people around them. These women’s legacies remind me why it’s so important not only to live one’s life to the full, but to share it.
Each of the two women mentioned above had recorded something about their life’s journey for the benefit of future generations. It brings me comfort and joy to know their great-great-grandchildren will know them not just by name, but by sight and story. By story I mean the essence of who they were communicated through moments of their lives. Their struggles, values, joys, and character all came through in their interviews. Those are the qualities that resonate.
How Memories Live On
As a company built on the value of family, personal narratives are always near and dear. But how does one tell their own or someone else’s story in a succinct and impactful way? How do you connect a person to viewers who may not have even met them? We believe it’s through a heart-felt connection.
Often times when people think of passing on their story or family history, they think they have to give facts like names, dates, and locations. However, it’s the feelings and the stories that tend to empower and endure.
Let’s say I were to ask you to share one of your favorite memories of your grandmother. If you did not know her well, you may tell me her name and where she lived. You may even know a fact like where she worked for a time. But if you knew her, the memories would be more meaningful. Perhaps your grandma always made sure there were treats to eat – not only showing us her sweet-tooth, but her giving nature. Possibly her hobby was to collect what you consider junk, but it came from a thrifty personality that saw beauty and purpose in all manner of things. Maybe you experienced something hilarious together that revealed your similar sense of humor. These types of stories would not only tell me more about who your grandmother was, but are also relatable qualities.
Narrative of the Heart
The women we remembered last month not only lived well, but shared that life. The tales of early marriage conflicts were laughed about, but also taught patience and grace. She used her business savvy to prepare her own family for the world. Her endurance and innovation through hardship encouraged the next generation with theirs. Her deep faith was not only hers, but lived out before others.
Genealogical facts still have their place, however passing a story changes a list of names into real friends and family. The insight gained through others’ personal narratives give us wisdom and strength in our own circumstances. In the words of Bruce Feiler in his 2013 New York Times article1, “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” Take advantage of the time you have now to not only live in such a way that impacts future generations, but pass those values on to others.