General views

You are part of history, record it!

This is more of a plea than a post, pay attention! Back in 2009 my father died suddenly. He had a massive heart attack about 5 kilometres into a 110 km bike race and died where he fell. Dad was a keen racing cyclist, at the age of 70! While it was an awful time at the time and we miss Dad terribly, in the big scheme of things it’s a good way to go if you’ve got to go. Doing what you love most surrounded by your mates.

The upshot was that I had to make a swiftly arranged trip to New Zealand. It was decided that each of we three sons would say a few words about our father at the funeral. We realised we knew very little about him though. Dad had a whole life being young before we were born but he told us almost nothing about it. As for himself after we were born, he still wasn’t one for telling you about what was on his mind. We spent our time at school during the day while he spent his day doing all the things he did to put food on the table.

We left home and moved away. Mum and Dad went about their lives out of our sight and knowledge of what they were doing, thinking, dreaming, aspiring to, wishing for and all the things that life entails. We were and still are oblivious to all of it. That’s a shame because one day we will want to tell people about the people we knew and we know so little about them.

When Dad died my brothers and I went to where he lived. None of us had been there before as he and mum had moved away from where we grew up when they seperated. I live overseas and my brothers aren’t the visiting types. We packed all his things up, sold what we could and threw away what we couldn’t sell. We salvaged a few keepsakes, closed and locked the door and drove away. A day or so later we had the funeral, and Dad was cremated. He has a headstone by his mother in Waipu Cemetery and that is about all there is to show for our father.

Except we do have a single short memory written down by Dad about an experience he had droving cattle back when he was a boy. I treasure it as it was the only thing he ever wrote about his life, which would have been incredibly interesting. He lived a really tough life back in the days when New Zealand was a pretty rough and ready place. He would have had amazing memories, good and bad. His Brother wrote a few pages about his childhood and called the story ‘the Freedom Years’. It’s riveting and wonderful but all too brief.

You may know I have written at length about all the stuff I can remember that I wanted to share about my life. I made it into a little book which most of my family now have a copy of. I was always very talkative anyway so few would have missed out on what I thought about things. But I’ve had a really interesting life and after having to speak about my Father at his Funeral I decided to write my life story down for those who were interested. It seems more are than I would have thought so that’s nice.

My point is you should do it too. Write about your life, write it for those that come after you and want to remember you for themselves or to others, make sure they have something to remember you by and with. Lots of people say to me upon finding out that I’ve written about my life that their life isn’t interesting enough to write about or that they aren’t ones for writing. Stop it! Your life is interesting to those who know you and love you even if not to you.

Everyone can write. It doesn’t have to be Hemingway, it’s just remembering. That’s all my little book is, it’s not meant to be witty or clever, it’s just memories written down in my own style, you’ll have your style.

Your kids or friends or family will want to know what your childhood and beyond that they weren’t part of looked like, good or bad. Someday someone is going to have to stand up and talk about you. Make sure they have what you want them to say rather than what they know from their own limited knowledge. Record your life for posterity as you have played your own little or big part in the great scheme of things.

We have a vast way of documenting our doings now to suit our preference. You might want to do a blog, it’s free! Maybe do a scrap-book thing.  Or a notebook of thoughts and memories, whatever works for you but just do it. Write about your life so people will remember you. We are all important and special in our own way to a few, some, or many others. Write about your life and make yourself permanent.

I wish my Dad did, he had so much of our family history walking about with him. So many things I would love to have known but don’t because he never talked about it or wrote about it. Please don’t let that happen to the people who want to know what you got up to. For example, when your grandchildren or their generation are taking holidays by teleporting to another dimension they will be enthralled to learn that you had to catch an aeroplane to another country. It’s history unfolding every day and it’s important to someone if not to you. Write about yourself and your life.

If you don’t know how to start, just think back to the first thing you remember and start from there. Have a look at how I did mine if if helps you get going

Life story, part one

You are playing your own part in history, record it, please!

8 replies »

  1. I suspect this is thinly aimed mainly at me. I will do it. How many times have you heard that!!! Your loving Mother.

  2. Hey Sandy, I’m so looking forward to sitting with my big brother, Charlie, and seeing how much more he remembers of his time with your grandfather, Athol. He says he helped him, not only as a young fella putting the papers & letters in the letterboxes, but also as a person in his late teens actually staying with them in Hikurangi and helping out on the farm. Your dad was a bit younger than my brother and might have still lived at home at that time. If my bro has any memories, I’ll definitely let you know. Arohanui.

  3. I’ve just looked at the picture of your dad, uncle & aunt. Might this have been taken in Kaikou? The house in the background is situated close to the road just as I remember Mr Abbot’s house being. It may not be, of course, but I was just wondering. Not sure why the children would be this far from the house, though. My brother remembers the children attending the Purua school. What a treasure of a pic of your dad and his siblings. Wonder how they managed walking on those metal roads with their soft bare feet? They sure raised them tough in those ‘not so good’ old days, ay?

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