Hedgecock's subtitle is "A complete guide to telling and sharing the stories of your life." She says she didn't start paying attention to her roots until after she stumbled over some of them. "Now I spend a lot of my time looking for more family stories and memories." Her book shares not only some of her family stories, it also—and far more importantly—stimulates readers to find and record their own stories.
Many of us regret not asking our parents and our grandparents about their lives when we had the chance. I suspect this regret comes with age. When we are young we tend to be so self-involved we're simply not all that interested in how dad met mom or what their childhood homes had been like. Until we reach a certain age, most of us I believe, don't care about dad's story of spending three weeks on a troop ship crossing the Pacific or mom's story of her first prom. But just because our children and grandchildren don't ask now (because they're distracted? timid? unfocused) does not mean they will never want to know.
Memories of Me is filled with good advice, suggestions, lists, worksheets, links to online sources and more. As I read the book, it stirred up memories of events, stories, anecdotes from my life, incidents and people I had not thought about for years. To give you a sense of the book's scope (in only 235 pages) here are some subjects you might write about: things you want to remember, friends, children, you childhood home, grandparents, family lore, heirlooms, traditions and recipes, animal stories, lessons learned, school days, and everyday questions (Is there a God? How do you make life matter? What would my ancestors think of me and my lifestyle? How do you teach kids to do the right thing?).
Hedgecock believes, based on her life experience, that a Treasure Chest of memories is valuable for both the writers and their families. It is "a collection of memories and reflections that we believe are worthy of perpetuation.... Because each of memories and experiences...have had some impact on the person we have become, less earthshaking events also belong in your collection." It is the dailyness, the routine that memoirists often overlook. She also points out there is a place to include the difficult times (physical or psychological abuse, relationship problems, a crisis of faith, and more) and suggests how to write about them.
She concludes her book by suggesting readers write a letter to a child. It's not for everyone, she notes, "but it can be a way of bridging chasms, expressing the thoughts and feelings that are hard to say, and generally crystallizing th things you love about your child and the happiness and aspirations you hope for them."
Memories of Me is more than a guide. Followed conscientiously, it can, I believe, enrich a reader's life.