[NOTE: Thank you all for your birthday greetings yesterday, and it was terrific to hear from some of you who've been reading Time Goes By, but have not left comments before. You all helped make the celebration of the first day of my 65th year even better.]
“You bring home the notion that you never truly die if you remain in someone's heart and memory. Sadly, though, it only takes the span of a couple of generations before our own story grows dim. I hope that my future great grandchildren and beyond have a curiosity about me and that some of my writings will survive the time test.”
It is only the descendants of kings and queens who have access to their family histories for centuries, and I have sometimes wondered what it is like to be, for example, Prince Charles, who can read in great detail about his direct ancestors going back for more than a thousand years. Genealogy is a popular internet pastime, but beyond names, birth and death dates and a few other public records, there isn’t much to discover about ordinary people and what they were like.
However, the time has come now, I believe, that Pattie’s lament no longer applies. There is an important admonition about the internet and email: Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of The New York Times - the point being that everything lives forever somewhere online. That's bad news for those who may have published in haste, but it is good news if you want to leave the stories of your lives behind.
Although I have no children, there are younger folks I love as much as if they were blood relatives. Some time ago, one of them accepted the responsibility of tying up loose ends when I die and now, having thought over Pattie’s comment, I have left with the other papers my friend will need, a final blog to be posted. Yes, it begins with, “If you’re reading this, I am dead,” though I intend to update it every six months or so and I may be able, in time, to get more creative than that.
I’ve also left instructions to set aside money to pay my blog host for at least a year after I die, along with other instructions for downloading my blog onto CDs (or whatever storage medium has evolved by then) to give to anyone who cares to have it.
In my case, in addition to whatever I’ve written here, there is the Timeline of my life in photographs. But you don’t need to do that in a blog necessarily. You could create one on a photo program on your computer to leave behind with the stories you want your descendants to know.
And you could encourage your children and grandchildren to start a similar timeline now with stories in their own words, for their children, and add to it during their life journeys. It doesn't need to be a daily journal as our blogs tend to be. But an account of a birthday party, first day in second grade, a summer vacation trip, college graduation, a book they liked reading, etc. will leave a sense and sensibility of these times with their personal stories for those whose lives will be as different from ours as the details of daily lives of 150, 200 and more years ago are to us now.
Imagine if you had such a record from your grandparents, great grandparents and even further back what a gift that would be. Now it can be so into an infinite future.