You Don't Have To Be Famous
September 25, 2012
I’ve never eaten bear, buffalo, antelope, wildcat, raccoon, or possum, but my third great-grandmother, Martha Rogers, did. I’m a clumsy seamstress, but Martha sewed all of her husband’s clothes: buffalo skin pants, bear skin cap, buckskin gloves with wildcat cuffs, and an antelope skin overshirt. I use a microwave, but Martha lived off the land. She lived in the days of the Wild West among cowboys and gunfights. Braving every kind of weather and danger, she traveled as a midwife; she knew a lot about babies having 12 children of her own.
Did Marta realize what an extraordinary woman she was, or did her life seem commonplace to her given the times in which she lived? I’ve talked to war heroes who saved others, showed courage, and provided leadership in the midst of inhumane conditions. Not a single one took credit for what he did saying, "I did what needed to be done." None of them thought what they did was extraordinary and certainly not heroic.
My hobby is genealogy, and I love learning and knowing about even the smallest detail of my ancestor’s lives. I hunger for more information. My mother passed away when I was young and left behind scanty facts about her life; I’d give anything to have a memoir of her own writing.
I hesitated to write my memoir because I am an ordinary person living a very ordinary life. My thinking was that writing a memoir required an epic event or larger-than-life story to write about. I’ve never done anything as noteworthy as eating possum or saving a life, but if my descendants are anything like me—my simple, ordinary life will be noteworthy because it actually was written by one of their ancestors.
In today's busy, mobile world, families get disconnected, geographically and emotionally, and our histories are in danger of being lost forever. If you don’t tell your story, who will? Everyone has a story and every voice deserves to be heard. What’s your story?
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
A professional editor and writer will help you write your memoir or family history book.
Boardwalk Branch Writers Group
Meetings are the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm.
Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories: 167 Ways To Tell Your Life Stories by Carol La Chapelle
How To Write Your Personal Or Family History by Katie Frank Wiebe