Life Story Links: April 8, 2019
“There is a real power in crafting a truthful narrative—or at least as truthful as you can make it, your emotional truth.”
The Power of the Past
A TRAUMATIC LEGACY
"Because our home lives are so influential on who we become...the question isn’t whether children of [Holocaust] survivors are psychologically affected by their family’s Holocaust experiences—it’s who will be and when,” Adam Kovac writes in this perceptive piece exploring how grandchildren of survivors grapple with their own psychological wounds.
FAMILY HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
Last week I offered up the most memorable quotes and takeaways from family history experts at RootsTech 2019, including why and how to put yourself into your family history and curating (or tossing?) family heirlooms and documents.
STUFF, AND MORE STUFF
“We used to hold on to letters, tickets and playbills to remind us of the past,” writes Peter Funt in a short NYT opinion piece entitled “Does Anyone Collect Old Emails?” It's worth a read, certainly, but it's the 407 reader comments that reveal the most insight and range of opinions on the perceived value of all that ephemera.
THE RACE TO ARCHIVE SLAVERY RECORDS
For the true history of slavery to survive and be told, the original evidence must be preserved, and protected. The Enslaved project aims to gather research about historic slavery in one searchable digital hub, due to go online in 2020; currently, "much of that information has only been in books or museums, or scattered in corners of the Internet in different languages, hidden behind broken links."
Amidst the Forgetting
"While Grandma’s brain let go of many of her memories, her heart held on to some of the dearest ones," such as the birthdays of all 20 of her grandchildren and dates with her not-yet husband. She seemed to forget, however, her disapproval of same-sex marriages (and resulting estrangement from her gay daughter).
ONE LAST TIME
“What could have been a desperately sad visit that December—one filled with the painful realization that his time was coming to an end—instead became a precious opportunity to allow my father-in-law just a few minutes to soak in the life he had when life was good,” Karen Bender of Virginia–based Leaves of Your Life writes.
MOTHER AND SON, TIME AND MEMORY
Artist, son, caregiver Tony Luciani went on a voyage of discovery with his nonagenarian mother: The photographic project that changed both of their lives, MAMMA In the Meantime, “looks at her frailty, delves into her dementia and the angst she feels about being old now. But it also speaks about life, love, endurance, and will power. It talks about the love a mother and child have in sharing moments too quickly vanishing,” Luciani says in the book, which is available for purchase.
Remembering, Writing & Recording
CRAFT AND QUESTIONS
Nicole Breit calls writers questers. "Setting out to draft a new tale, we begin an archetypal hero’s journey. What initiates the quest are questions—about the memories that haunt us, no matter how many years have passed," she writes.
A PLACE TO SHARE
A podcasting studio in Hobart, Indiana is inviting people to come record their family histories and life stories using the professional audio equipment for a nominal fee; they also have a team who can visit people off-site who might be in assisted living or unable to drive. "You can sit and listen to family stories when growing up, but this a permanent record and memento," says a founder of The River Project, as it is called.
On the latest episode of The Life Story Coach podcast, Amy Butler interviews New Zealand life story writer Christine Norton on how she expanded her company by taking on business licensees.
First Person Reads
AIR: A RADIO ANTHOLOGY
Hippocampus has released the first of its The Way Things Were series, a line of anthologies that celebrate the things we miss, the things we long for—this one all about radio. ”From first jobs in small town stations to listening to baseball games with grandpa, the 20+ essays take place across the decades in studios of all sizes, in homes, in cars, and, really, wherever the airwaves take us.” Forthcoming titles will celebrate diners, small town newspapers, and mom and pop stores.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
“Now I love it when people ask me how to say my name right, because, hearing it said out of someone else’s mouth makes me feel real,” Rebecca Tamás writes for Granta. “Like a TV being tuned through static that finally lands on a crisp, clear image. Ah, there I am.”
...and a Few More Links
Is the Writing from the Heart memoir workshop (starting tomorrow!) right for you?
How the “genealogies in Genesis show us the impact one life can have on that of another”
A columnist on “the good ole days” and how we never know they are that when they’re happening
Nine facts about your memory you’ll want to know
Best memory journal apps for Android
Read an excerpt from Valerie Jarrett’s new memoir, Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward.
On the real-time thrill of reading a writer’s diary
Just released: Questions I Am Asked about the Holocaust by Auschwitz survivor Hedi Fried