Sitting around the Thanksgiving table, Grandpa tells his story, again, of narrowly escaping Poland as a small child with his family on the eve of WWII. The conversation migrates to Mom’s days as the first woman partner at her law firm. Later, Dad regales us again with the hilarious story of their disastrous honeymoon. Then somebody says, “Write this stuff down!” But nobody ever does.
Every family has a story — and many stories within the story — but the process of actually writing them all down can feel overwhelming. Cherished memories and family histories wind up lost to the tides of time. Biography by Design (BBD) was founded by Kate Buford and Abigail Santamaria to help families (as well as individuals, corporations and other organizations) preserve their histories in written form. Our clients range from first-generation immigrants to families who have been in the U.S. for generations, from couples celebrating their new marriage to those nearing a milestone anniversary. The stories are as diverse as those lives.
Several recent clients have asked us to write or edit the stories of their grandparents. BBD worked with David Safris to help structure and edit his story of the relationship between his ten-year-old self and his Nebraska grandfather into a lovely novel, A Grandson’s Story: Beatrice, Nebraska, 1977. It is based on both his memories and the letters his grandfather wrote to his wife every day from Europe during the last year of World War II. He chose to self-publish and the book is available on Kindle.
The values of personal and family biographies extend beyond legacy preservation. Studies show that children who know where they come from–and the long line of people who created them–experience less anxiety. An understanding of the past helps people make sense of their lives and move forward into their futures with renewed purpose. Today’s present is, after all, part of tomorrow’s story.