The Time For Your History is Now

One of the problems with writing memoirs and short biographies is remembering the fine detail that makes a story more readable to other people. What I remember of a situation or event, will always differ slightly from what you remember, because our perspectives will differ.

It is an indisputable fact, that as we grow older, we increasingly look back at our lives, and at the lives of our families and friends, with longing, or satisfaction, or regret, or nostalgia.

It is also a fact that the parts of our adult lives that our children experience, leave out a large part of what we experienced in the early parts of our lives, before our children were born.

I have completed the three-score part of the years that have been allocated to me, and, like many people of my age, have spent a great deal of time looking back.

I moved to the UK a few years back, and experienced an interest in, and acknowledgement of the contributions of the soldiers who fought in the the Second World War that I had not previously experienced in my home country, South Africa. My father served in the Union Defence Force of South Africa during the latter years of the war. He served in north Africa and in Italy. Like many ex-servicemen, he was taciturn about his experiences, and as a young boy I was only able to gleaned snippets of his adventures and experiences from him. Now that I am almost of the age that he was when he died, I have discovered things about him that I did not know, and my heart aches that I was not able to share and discuss these things with him when he was alive. How sad that I was not able to honour his deeds during his life, as I will now do in memorium.

I have resolved that my children will not find themselves in the same situation when they reach my age, and I have begun to write about that part of my own life that I experienced before I met my wife, and before we had our children. I will also write about our my perspective of our shared experiences as a family. I owe this to my family.

Write down your history for the sake of your children. Don’t let them, too, feel the ache and regret that they did not know and honour your early life in they way that they might want to.


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One response to “The Time For Your History is Now

  1. Hi Trevor

    How very true. Funny this should pop up on my Facebook page just now. One of our oldest and most loved lepidopterists, Ivan Bampton, died recently. His friends arranged a lovely in memoriam article in our Journal, Metamorphosis – and also printed the e-mails we sent to his son when we got the news. I wrote something for the article and later sent an e-mail. In one, the butterfly I remembered him finding a larva of was the Pearl-spotted Emperor. In the other it was Van Son’s Emperor…

    I only realised this when Metamorphosis got to my post box yesterday. After the initial feelings of embarrassment, I rationalised it by saying – hell I am 54, I have an excuse for having a dodgy memory! Maybe I should have written about it closer to the time – I’m not sure now how much I can trust my recall.

    Not having any kids, I have a different take on this to you. But we all have a network of friends, so leaving something for posterity is good for those as well.

    I also regret not knowing my father better. I knew he was at Kohima during WW2 but it was only once he’d died and we opened up the old tin trunk he never let us see inside that we found his diary and got an inkling of what he went through there. We donated it to the War Museum who were very grateful for it, as their records of what happened there are very sparse. My Dad was no journalist and all the records were short, terse accounts of who had been killed, what the food reserves were like etc… if only I’d got him to talk about it properly and written it all down before it was too late!



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