Ronni Then and Now
Baby Boomers Rule

Stories For Future Generations

[EDITORIAL NOTE: There seems to be some confusion about yesterday's post. I am not curtailing or stopping blogging. The Timeline, one section of the blog, began on 18 October 2004, followed through my life with two photos each weekend until it reached the present yesterday. It will continue now and then only as there are events worth mentioning. Otherwise, I will be blogging as usual. I apologize for being unclear.]

The Timeline was many weeks in the making spread out over two or more years. In fact, I’ve done it twice: once at a photoblog site and repeated here, giving me a chance to add and rearrange pictures, correct some stories and tell a few more in the mix.

It was an extraordinary adventure, plowing through, sorting, scanning photos and keepsakes of a lifetime. Some triggered memories that had not come to me since the original event – a few “oh, wow” moments in that. There are long gaps, too, in the pictorial narrative leaving me to wonder what I no longer recall without a memory trigger – a photograph, a letter, a ribbon saved from a gift, etc.

Earlier this year, I wrote two pieces about collecting our stories for our family descendents. The first, titled Stories For the Infinite Future, lamented how little we know of our ancestors and suggested that with the new technologies available now, we can tell our stories for our children, grandchildren and beyond. A photo timeline like mine is one way to do it and there is no reason to make it public unless you wish to.

In response to that post, a woman emailed that she had led a dull, ordinary life as a wife and mother and she had no stories to tell. Well, that’s just nonsense, isn’t it – as I answered in (Extra)ordinary Lives. Everyone has family stories to tell. There is no such thing as an ordinary life.

Think how much you would appreciate a Timeline such as mine about your grandparents and even your great-grandparents. These days there are videos to be made too. You can write the stories of your life or you can record them in audio so your great-grandchildren can know what your voice sounded like and how you spoke.

Jill Fallon at Legacy Matters writes a lot – as you might suspect from the title of her blog – about legacy. You might want to read some of them and think about getting your stories together for your descendants.

Bonded Black and White

Blogging and Rediscovery

Gift of a Lifetime

Every Damned Thing or Stories?

Why Legacy Matters

As interesting as our stories will be for future generations, it is equally fruitful to do it for ourselves. It was an extraordinary journey, sitting here at my desk over weeks and months, reviewing the life I’ve had so far. There were moments my eyes filled with tears and others when, alone with the cat, I laughed out loud and felt again the joy of times past.

I understand my life a little better now. I can see its arcs and eras. The turning points. The choices made and those rejected. And I imagined for awhile how my life might have been different if I’d taken another path at those junctures – though each decision feels inevitable from this vantage point.

My Timeline began with the purchase of a scanner with the purpose only to electronically preserve old photos that were mouldering and fading in shoe boxes and envelopes. It unexpectedly turned into the story of my life so far and I have a sense now of having put things in order, of settling some old questions, of knowing myself better. It is an excellent project I recommend to anyone.

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Comments

Ronni, I definitely could have written this post. Nearly everything you said applies to me, especially the part about reviewing your life through the photos and how they trigger memories that make you alternately joyful and sad.

My husband has been compiling his geneaology for about 5 years now, and most of his info is factual, but dry and uninteresting to all but the family. My "geneaology" consists of the photos, memorabilia and stories I tell here on the blog about my life, and surprisingly enough - are interesting to more and more people. What I thought had been a very ordinary life is proving to be much more than I suspected, as I view it throught the eyes and comments of those who read my posts. What a revelation it has all been!

My husband suggested a while back that I print my blogs, and I have been doing that periodically. They are kept in a three-ring binder, for my children and grandchildren to have - when they are ready.

I've just read all the posts you linked to Jill and they are good reading. I guess I am not the only one who is rediscovering who she/he is by blogging. Darn, see I always think I invent things - and then I find out others have done it sooner and better!

I have done that on my computer, but not posted other than the one of my childhood and even that was long before blogging and the idea you could write more with it than a simple who was who. Last year I scanned pictures from my parents' old albums that showed their lives from childhood to early marriage. There were people in some of those albums who I could only guess at relationships or when they might've been taken; and I much regretted I hadn't asked more questions when those still alive could have answered. In the growing up one I had the benefit of pretty much remembering. I then did one I called retrospective which encompassed my life as an adult until today.

Yours with the stories is definitely the superior way to do that kind of project. It is interesting to see how a life went down, the things we felt were important, the loved ones who have gone on.

When my grandchildren looked at the pictures of their parents' family life, it helped them see how they will grow, how life changes. One nice thing about scanning those really old family albums is I could give a CD to my kids and there wasn't that same risk of it all being lost in a fire.

I am an only child whose mother died when I was 24 and my father has dementia. There is only one cousin left so I decided it was time to find out about my family for my children and grandchildren. I was too stupid to ask and listen when I could. I jumped into genealogy. When my granddaughter was born, I began a journal (paper) for her telling her my story and making note of things that have happened even in her life now.
I have just started my blog, and I think I may print some of the things there for the grandchildren too. That was a great idea.
Beautiful post (as you are known for!).

I think it's a top idea, and one I've run with on my blog. I call it Retrospective though as it's not a timeline as such, like yours.

I think it may have eventually occurred naturally but your Timeline gave me the impetus to start my Retrospective.

Thanks.

I see some have posted that they do Genealogy. I use a Software called "Personal Historian". It turns your data-base into a very workable Timeline of you or another, and adds other Timelines (History, music, movies, etc.)You can add your photos to it.

Well, I can't believe how behind I am when I'm only now reading this great post. And you're one of the top ones on my personal blogroll

Many thanks for the links. You're doing such wonderful stuff. I'm so glad you're keeping your Timelines up since it's the best example I use to show people how easy it is to make stories with their photos.

far- out, ronni. You are the female forest gump...hobnobbing with the likes of john lennon, barb walters, and much better: stan siegal. I'm not sure you really knew these guys(you probably had some gen- x lackey doctor the pictures in photoshop) but even if you didn't, I find your story pretty wild. The shit about the cats and aunt edith really bored me silly though...People my age(45) would like to hear more about john lennon or jimi hendrix, not patrick duffy or stan siegal..Actually, the stuff i really dug was the real,REAL life experiences like the guy whith aids and the subway platform incident-- who gives a shit 'bout John lennon or cronkite- their just a bunch of overpaid, balding megalomaniacs. O.K. see ya later...oreo from funorio

Ronni, you have my thanks tonight. I am dreading my 55th birthday in January 2006, and, on Christmas night a waiter asked if my entree was to be selected from "our senior menu" - thus horrifying me and shocking my husband, who is 13 years my junior and who sees me through the eyes of love and not necessarily reality. I Googled "Blogs on Aging" for wisdom and solace and found yours first. What a tour your Timeline provides, and a reminder that our lives are quite a ride! Last year my husband and I created a four-disc CD genealogy project of my maternal grandparents' lives. It, like your Timeline, began with the purchase of a scanner. I filled it with photos, old music (had to pay Warner Bros. for one-time rights to an old Judy Garland song that was a favorite of my grandfather's), and historical documents. You have reminded me tonight that I am a creative, passionate woman who is suffering a bit of "what's next" syndrome. I appreciate your blog more than I can say. Happy New Year to you.

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