Tell the story of you

Posted on November 13, 2007
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            Remembrance Day made me think of my Grandpa Cadogan, as it always does. His father moved the family from Wales to New Zealand when he was a baby. To avoid being apprenticed as a Jackaroo (sheep herder) he ran away to sea at 14.

            He fought in the Boer War and WW I where he rose to the rank of company sergeant major and received, among other medals, the French Croix de Guerre.

            I have some of his medals and two diaries containing very sporadic entries.

            I know that shell of facts and very little else about him. We lived over 100 miles apart in a time when that was significant and he died while I was barely in my teens. He was a tiny, tough man who got a huge kick out the gory beatings portrayed by professional wrestlers on TV.

            I’d dearly love to have real details of his life in the wars and at sea.

            I’m sure there are people in your family tree you’d like to know better. What would you give to be able to go back in time and interview them for a couple of hours?

            Okay then, imagine what your great grandchildren would give to be able to know you? To know what excited you, frightened you, pleased you, hurt you? To know what you liked to do and what you loved and where you’d been?

            My wife’s family are all musical. I’ve been trying for years to get them to record themselves making music together. I try to tell the children how much they would enjoy being able to play that for their grandchildren someday. They agree but we aren’t getting around to it.

            While you can, you might want to consider making a record of your life for your descendants. The common details of what you do for fun will be fascinating to them.

            I remember 35 years ago interviewing a couple on their 60th anniversary. I asked them what they did for fun when they were courting. They described groups of young people taking their horses and cutters up the Saint John River to Hartland. There they skated, built a bon fire and roasted marshmallows and hot dogs. At the end of the evening they cuddled up under their buffalo hides and headed back to Woodstock. Their eyes twinkled as they told me that.

            Another man, a renowned local athlete, told me about how the CPR used to allow communities to use a train on the weekend if they could get the crew to volunteer. He told of people boarding the train after church with picnic baskets and partying their way down to St. Stephen. There the town’s hockey teams would have a game and then they’d party their way back home.

            I’m sure your stories of your fun will sound as wonderful 95 years from now.

            Young people, in their prime, should also have a professional photographer take some glamour shots of them. Someday they will realize how beautiful youth and health is no matter what flaws they think they have now. They will value the ability to show their grandchildren what they looked like at their best.

            Wedding pictures will do that, you might be thinking. Not necessarily. Sometimes wedding pictures become obsolete. They’re not the same thing as a glamour shoot anyway.

            Maybe you could give your kids or grandkids a photo session with a pro as a gift.

            Tell the story of you. The audience may not be huge but it will be dedicated.

                                                DAC

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