One of Dick Eastman's articles yesterday was about why we study family history. I agree with his premise that many of us are fascinated with the subject because it helps us discover who we are. I too cannot get enough of knowing those people whose DNA contributed to my own. And I love to write down what I know about them and what I think and feel about them too. What really caught my eye though, was a comment made by a person who described himself as "unqualified" to write about his family history.
I don't agree. Any person with the basic skills to read and write, or with a friend or relative who can read and write, can write about their family history. Folks, there are no grades assigned to our family history writing. We are writing for our own enjoyment and for anyone else who cares to read as well. If they do not enjoy it, believe me they will not read it. Many people who I love do not read my writing (including my husband--until I wrote about his dad and mom). And that's fine. It doesn't mean that I cannot or should not continue to write. My writing is a way of expressing myself about a topic that is dear to my heart--my family members.
Recently a dear young friend who has been developmentally delayed her whole life stopped me in the grocery store. "Joy, I wrote my history," she told me excitedly. "My sister helped me." She went on to tell me that since she likes jokes so much, she had included her favorite jokes in what had been written. She wanted to share it with me. She even told me a few of her best jokes on the spot. Her history helped her define herself. I don't think Carolyn would have been able to write that history without help, but she got help and she got something that she enjoyed and was able to share.
The form in which we record our family history varies. It may be a simple listing of facts in a computer program on or on paper. It may be a scrapbook or a journal. It may be a webpage or an entry on facebook. It may be a story for your children and grandchildren or one or several volumes of stories. We are each individuals with individual preferences and talents. But let's not ever stop ourselves by thinking or saying that we are "unqualified" or that we "can't" write. Let's never stop writing from our hearts; let's not stop expressing our individuality. If Carolyn can do it, so can we!