Born in 1962, I enjoyed a wonderful childhood growing up in North Hollywood, California and the small community of Llano in the Antelope Valley. College took me away to the Santa Barbara area, where I have lived and worked since 1980.
In 2010, I sat with my grandmother for the first of one of our 'talks.' I asked a few questions and she graciously shared the stories of her life. Some I had heard before; others were a complete surprise. We laughed and we shed some tears. She protested she 'didn't have much to tell', and was surprised that I'd find interesting a 'bunch of old stuff.'
Together we wrote my grandmother's book, but in the documenting I found something I wasn't counting on. I found pieces of myself, as that is what happens when we discover from where we came. And I hoped that is what the rest of our family would find in the reading. We were given the end of a ribbon that unraveled back in time, a tether to the strength and determination of our ancestors who left their homelands to find work and a better life. I like to think that if they could see us all now, their descendents, they would believe their hardships were warranted.
The journey from first interview session to placing my grandmother's completed book in her hands was such a fulfilling and rewarding experience that I decided to offer my assistance in writing personal histories to others. I have always loved writing and listening, and to now do both with a purpose that has such an emotional impact on lives is an honor and a privilege. Your story is waiting to be shared - let’s start writing it today!
If preserving your stories is important to you, keep in mind
‘The palest ink is better than the best memory’
Why write a family history?
It started with a little box with a name inside, linked with dozens of other name-filled boxes. I was working on my family tree - connecting the dots I knew, finding missing links via the sometimes wonderful World Wide Web - when it struck me. All these ancestral relations of mine I knew nothing about. Document investigations revealed oceans crossed in steerage compartments to carve out farms in a free land, to build railroads and shovel coal, to cobble shoes in large cities, but the documents sketched only a thin outline of their lives.
What did they think, what did they feel, what did they dream? Why did they leave, how did they survive, where exactly was their homeland? So many questions, all lost to assumption and imagination. And I didn't want to lose any more. A few years ago I sat down with my last remaining grandparent for a series of interviews which led to transcribing it all, and along with numerous photographs and letters and other mementos, publishing it into a soft bound book that became a treasure to my grandmother and the rest of our family. The experience was so fulfilling to me that I have set out to help others preserve their family stories.
My family tree is full of those who had rich, full lives - just like we are living. But they were all whittled down to just a name in a box because their stories were never captured. I am dedicated to helping you save all that you remember, all that you have accomplished, all that you wish to share. Oftentimes we wait for special events or life passages to prompt us to begin such an undertaking, but I am here to encourage you - record your stories now and leave a legacy for your family. It is a journey filled with unexpected joy and one you will never forget.