Dear LifeStory Family and Friends,
Saint Patrick’s Day and the first day of Spring kick off a season of holidays and milestones where family and friends gather to celebrate and undoubtedly retell favorite stories from the past. Easter and Passover, Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, and reunions—all building up to the big summer kickoff: Memorial Day weekend! One of my favorite family stories is how my brothers, cousins, and I always marveled at the WWII battle scars on our grandfather’s leg, which became one of the highlights in his memoir, Swimming Through History, the first one I ever wrote.
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day this month, meet Tom, a first-generation American of Irish descent—and a fantastic guy!—who tells his LifeStory in his memoir, A Union Man & A Family Man. When Tom learned from his daughter about the opportunity to tell his story in a book that would be enjoyed by his 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and countless generations to follow, he was all-aboard. Today, Tom loves to show off his memoir, displaying it proudly for visitors to read and revisiting his life’s stories whenever they ask questions.
His LifeStory begins with his childhood growing up in 1940s Newark in the West Ward, an Irish and Italian neighborhood. Both of Tom’s parents came from Ireland. His mother, Alice, grew up in Castlerae in the county of Roscommon, and his father, Henry, grew up in Frenchpark, right next to Castlerae. They actually attended the same school for a time, but the boys and girls had separate entrances, so they didn’t meet each other until after emigrating to the U.S.
Tom with his sisters and parents
Tom was the youngest of his parents’ four children, and he was entrepreneurial at a young age. In his memoir, Tom remembers:
I used to make a carnival in our backyard during the summertime and my friends would run it with me. There were usually twenty or thirty kids at the carnival, and each kid would pay two cents to get in. We had all kinds of games, such as throwing a ball at a stack of oil cans. The prizes were old comic books. Knocking the cans over became too easy at one point, so I packed some mud into them. Then when someone threw the ball, it sometimes bounced back and hit them in the face. We were always out running around. The neighborhood was safe in those days and we didn’t need supervision. We would play different games, such as kick the can, and then go home when the streetlights came on.
Tom’s main goal in telling his story was to capture his life’s most important components—his youthful exploits, falling in love, his career and political work in the Local 68 Operating Engineers Union of New Jersey, and his family. When I described LifeStory to his daughter Lorraine, whom I met in a networking event, she knew immediately that I was the perfect fit for her father. She had never heard of a service like mine, yet she realized it was something her dad just had to have.
She was right, and when the book was finished, said, “Everyone loved the book, especially my father! It is valuable for ever and ever and ever. It was a pleasure working with you. Thank you!”
Well before I complete my clients’ memoirs, they and their families are already realizing some of the benefits:
Going through old pictures with family is engaging, social, and energizing
Looking forward to the interview sessions creates joy
Enjoying the uninterrupted time and space to speak what’s on their mind at their own pace is a gift
Anticipation grows among family and friends who can’t want to read the memoir they’ve been hearing about
Reminiscing about the past and the stories they almost forgot is priceless for the storytellers
Here’s what happens when they receive it:
“It’s more than I expected!” - Elisa
The stories of your life or a loved one’s are legacies that create a cherished memoir. For more information visit LifeStoryMemoir.com.
Richard Squires, MFA, MA
Author & Publisher