The loss of key family members diminishes the knowledge we have about ourselves, or our children. I have become more and more aware of this as I have got older. In 1999 when my wife Jill died of cancer one of the things I grieved for was the loss of our family history. All the little events in the lives of our children that were memorable to her that she had stored away and was able to tell in the way that only she could do because it had been her experience and her memory that had captured those moments.
I read somewhere that as parents we are not only the archive of memory of our children's passage through early life, and of our own childhood that provides them with a deeper sense of who they are, the digital age has made us custodians of our children's digital record until such time that they need to take it over. To this end I have begun to set up a family website and to digitise our hard copy photographs. It's going to be a big job but it's one I feel is my duty to undertake.
But I have also come to realise, for example through Jill's passing, that histories are not just snapshots of life they are stories containing the meanings we construct around them. Meaningful stories are as important as our genes in transmitting who we are and how we have become who we are. So now that I have more time, I have taken it upon myself to record my mother and father's stories about their lives as audio files and as a transcribed text so that more of our history is preserved. I have made a good start and I think that they are pleased to have their stories written down.
On my visit in 2013 I have found this place holds so many memories - the house and garden, the beach and the journey here - some are happy and some are sad. But listening to my parents talk again about their lives I have been inspired to spend some time researching my father's family going back in time as far as I can. It looks as if our roots lie in Scotland and Ireland on both sides of the family. The second is to set down my own story, at least that part I am willing to tell, and I have made a good start while I am here.
As I write this another idea is emerging from my thoughts that there must be lots of people who are reaching my age who would perhaps like to record their parent's histories or tell their own life stories. Helping people create such personal records would be a worthwhile thing to do so perhaps there is a role for me to play and a business to create?