The Importance of Preserving Memories

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by ELYSIAN Magazine

My Nana was born in 1926 in New York City to Irish immigrants and lived a thoroughly interesting life. As an executive secretary to Pan American Airlines, she used her travel discount to go to Italy, Miami, and everywhere in between. She rented a summer house with her coworkers, and they called themselves “The Belles of Spring Lake.” 

Her life has been filled with interesting stories, and while I have many of them captured in my mind – along with a voice mailbox filled with her messages to me – I wish I had more. She is getting older and her capacity for storytelling is only getting harder, and I’m trying to treasure and capture every moment I can. 

This is not a unique experience. As it has been recently reported, more than 1 in 6 Americans is now 65 or older. The time to capture their memories and stories is now. 

Storyworth has established itself as a major player in storytelling, making it easy for people of any age to capture their stories and create a book. The founder, Nick Baum, built Storyworth in fall 2012 to make it easy for his dad to record these stories. I’ve now gifted it to my dad and mother-in-law, and I can’t recommend it enough. The book we created for my dad captures so many of the little memories, the first jobs, and hard work he’s put in throughout his life, which has in turn shaped mine. He has plenty of time to add more volumes or fine-tune this memoir of his, but having a first draft in hand is powerful and comforting.

Similarly, MemoryWell grew out of the experience of founder Jay Newton-Small, a longtime Time Magazine correspondent (and author of one of my favorites, Broad Influence, analyzing the tipping point in women’s representation that they are able to have more of an impact). She cared for her father, who had Alzheimer’s, and wanted to change his experience living in a senior community. Instead of just sharing a long questionnaire with pages of hand-written data points to represent her father, she wrote his story for his caregivers and pasted it on the walls throughout the community. Now MemoryWell, a patient-centered company, is bringing this storytelling to care centers across the country.

This new focus on storytelling and the importance of remembering the little moments that make our lives matter is empowering. TikTok has hundreds of thousands of creators who implore us all to romanticize our lives. Whether capturing your story in daily video vlogs, or in a memoir as facilitated by Storyworth, the options are endless. Encourage your family members of any age to capture their essence, and the parts of their lives that will enrich generations to come.

Take the time to write a note about an iconic family picture, and don’t let your memories slip away. 

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