Julie Seedorf: Write your memoir simply for your families

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, April 1, 2018

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Have you written your memoir yet? I haven’t. I hadn’t even thought about writing a memoir until the other day. A friend suggested I write mine. You probably all know my response; I laughed.

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Writing memoirs seems to be all the rage these days for the rich and famous. Many of my favorite soap opera stars from the “Young and the Restless” have written their memoir. They included tidbits we didn’t know about the show and their co-stars. Who got along? Who didn’t? What animosity was behind the cameras? Who made lifelong friends?

I just read a story saying Sally Field’s memoir is coming out soon. Burt Reynolds wrote his narrative a few years ago apparently stating, according to his interviews, that Sally was the love of his life. Will she say the same thing?

I actually had an autographed copy of Tab Hunter’s biography. Many of you won’t remember Tab Hunter but he is a heartthrob from the ’50s. My son was the manager of a Borders Store when Tab visited, and my son made sure I got a copy because he knew I would love it. I was a little young when Tab was a heartthrob, but it made interesting reading. He highlighted the strain of being adored by women when he was secretly gay.

Katherine Hepburn clued us in on her love story with Spencer Tracy, while Christina Crawford, daughter of Joan Crawford, let us know how terrible her life was with “Mommie Dearest.”

Maybe stars write memoirs and dish the dirt when they are out of money. Maybe I should write my memoir and pretend to be someone famous.

Is it any wonder I laughed when my friend said I should write about my uninteresting life, the uninteresting part being my words, not hers. I found out my friend was serious, and she gave me her reason. We all should write memoirs for our families, so when we are gone and they have questions about our lives and theirs,  the parts we didn’t share while alive would be recorded in a book or let them know our hidden selves.

I remembered how well that worked in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County.” After Francesca died, her children learned of a great love, and a small few weeks in her life where she spent time with the love of her life and it wasn’t their father. I figured if I took my friend’s advice I was safe because I had no little secrets like that.

I thought about the questions and things I would love to know now about my mother and father’s life — questions that I never got around to ask because my dad died when I was 20 and my mother wasn’t one to talk about her earlier life or health facts about anyone in my family.

I’d love to know more about my dad’s life before he met my mother. My inquisitiveness started about 10 years after he died. I attended a funeral of a relative and an elderly lady wanted to talk to me. She introduced herself and then explained she and my father had known each other when they were young adults. She fell in love with my father. She never married because she never loved anyone else but him. Would he have put that in a memoir had he had the chance? I hoped so.

Another question remains about my father-in-law. We found a picture, a large picture, not of my mother-in-law, and the picture was signed, to Herold, All My Love and a first name. She was a beautiful woman, and we wondered if she had a special place in his life that this picture had been kept all of these years.

I would like to know more about the difficulties of marrying someone of a different religion in a time when Catholics were not allowed to marry Protestants. How did the families react? Did my parents ever get in trouble when they were young and how difficult was the Depression on them? These are all things and more that could be in a memoir. What were their hurts, fears and joys?

I know my friend did not want me to write my memoirs to profit by making it into a book to sell. No one buys books by unknowns talking about their lives. She thinks all of us should write our memoirs and leave them as a legacy for our families so they would learn more about who we were as children, teenagers, adults and parents. Our mistakes might be teaching moments. Our heartbreaks might let our children know if our heart broke it mended again, and so would theirs.

Our memoirs, unlike many of the celebrity memoirs, would not be a tell-all for all to read but a history of where we came from, who we were, who we are and what we have overcome. I wish my grandparents had left memoirs documenting leaving Poland for America and the hardship of leaving their families knowing they would never see them again. Even that shaped who I am today, but I don’t know how because the secret was lost forever when they died.

I am a writer so I may take my friend’s advice. You don’t have to be a writer to write your biography. Your family won’t care if the words are spelled right or if your grammar is bad, but they will be able to know how they got here, how their family was shaped and what made them who they are today that they will pass down to the next generation.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.