Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 13th. Why not do something really special for your favorite grandparent – help them preserve some of their life stories!
Wouldn’t it be great to have a few stories about your grandparent’s childhood, or maybe some insights into what made them the person they are today? Imagine what you could learn – about the times, the people, your parents, even about yourself.
Here’s what to do: Make a date with your grandparent to talk – in person or on the phone – to celebrate Grandparent’s Day. When you’re together, tell your grandparent that you want to record some stories. Pull out your cell phone and open up a recording app (VoiceRecordHD on IOS or Android is my favorite, but there are others.) And then just start talking.
Ask questions like these:
- Where did you grow up?
- What was school like for you?
- How did you connect with friends without phones and Facebook?
- What did you do during summer vacations?
- Where did you eat before fast-food showed up on the scene?
- How and where did you learn to drive?
- What kinds of chores did you have at home?
- Did you hang out at the mall – and if not, how did you spend their time?
- What do you remember about the end of summer and the beginning of the school year?
If you don’t know the facts about your grandparent, ask!
- Where was he or she born?
- Ask about his or her parents – where were they from?
- How about marriage and children, besides your parent?
- What kind of work did they do?
- What are some of the fond memories?
- What were some of the hardships and challenges of life?
You can think up more questions. Just keep the conversation going for an hour or so. Be sure your phone has enough battery power!
When you’re finished, you’ve got an MP3 file ready for editing and transcription. I recommend editing to remove the parts that aren’t useful. Even I can use Audacity, and there are other free apps as well.
If you want a transcription, send the edited file to SpeechPad.com or any other transcription service. At $1-$4/minute, you can have a Word document returned to you within a few days. At an average rate of 100 to 150 words per minute during your hour of conversation, you’ll have about 6000 to 9000 words, or roughly 24-36 pages (at 250 words per page) in your document.
Clean up the Word doc, editing lightly where absolutely necessary for clarity. Don’t change your grandparent’s voice, though. You’re not trying to impress your English teacher. You want the story to read just as if your grandparent were speaking.
Add titles to each story. Add a cover page and insert a few photos if you have them. Upload the document to one of the simple book creation systems like Lulu.com or CreateSpace.com if you want a printed and bound book. You’ll need a minimum of 24 pages. Or, you can bind the pages at your local copy shop.
And presto! You’ve got a collection of your grandparent’s memories to share with your family.
By the way, if you’re a grandparent reading this, consider taking matters into your own hands. Create your own book of memories to give as a gift to your family on Grandparents Day, or anytime. My Ebook, Memoir Writing Made Easy guides you step-by-step in ten easy lessons.
Memoir Writing Made Easy is available as an immediate download, right here.
Remember, when you’re gone, all your stories, memories, knowledge, favorite recipes and secret fishing spots go along with you. Share them now, while you still can. And, Happy Grandparents Day!