As part of homeschooling for my kids a few years ago, I decided to share some excellent books from my past with them. They were two of my favourite old series. One was the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the other was the "All Creatures Great and Small" series by James Herriot. And whenever I read either of these two authors I'm caught up in their stories instantly. Even though these two authors may seem poles apart, they actually have a lot in common.
Both of these series are autobiographical
but written in very entertaining story styles. Both were written when
their authors had grown quite old and were looking back over their own
lives. They each decided to leave their own legacy in writing and I'm so
grateful they did. What a lot of history, geography and even science
are tied into these fun, human-interest books. Putting readers into
their own places with their descriptions has to got to be one of my favourite
ways to learn.
We learned a lot about that pioneer
time in America when Laura and her family were moving west that helped
us put our own lives in perspective. And we developed a real feeling for the
late 1930s in Yorkshire when James first became a vet, not to mention
noticing the vast progress in technology that's happened in those 80
years. And we've cracked up laughing at some of his hilarious anecdotes.
I can't help thinking that if neither of these authors had written,
we'd be so much poorer without knowing it.
That started me speculating about the number of people with fascinating
stories who think they couldn't possibly record them and don't bother
trying. Or the ones who do and then leave them in their cupboards. So
I'm sure we are already poorer without knowing it in thousands of ways. Maybe anybody with a knack or passion for writing and recording in an
interesting way ought to regard it as a sort of duty to record them
because we never know who we'll touch. Even if it's unlikely that we'll
become as famous as Laura Ingalls Wilder or James Herriot, doing it
for the love of it and for those who may be touched is a worthwhile
enough goal anyway.
My father has been writing my own grandfather's story this way. I never knew that grandfather. He
died almost ten years before I was born but I've recently got to
know him through typing my own father's family history. My grandfather
(his father) was born in 1892. He had lots of interesting things happen
to him. He served in both wars and he was the boxing champion of South
Australia for several years. There is lots of information about him,
including several funny anecdotes that happened around the country-side
and in the ring. How much poorer we would have been if none of these stories had come to light. I was born in the 1970s, and even time that recent comes across as the Dark Ages to my kids. Perhaps we all should consider scribing some record of our past for posterity, as times seem to change so quickly.
Paula Vince is a South Australian, award-winning author of contemporary fiction. She believes a good story has the power to touch hearts and lives in a way nothing else can. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia with her family.