What You Forget You Can Never Retell

“Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.” – Louisa May Alcot

Tonight my sweet Mother came over to my home and we sat and scanned in several stacks of her Father’s (my Grandfather’s) papers he had written back while he was alive. As I sat scanning the different documents I started reading through some of them, looking at his handwritten notes in the margins of all of his typed up letters. As I read his notes I could feel that same sense of sitting with him in his living room talking to him about his views on life and listening to his words of wisdom that came from the extraordinary life he had lived. I treasured those times with him so much and I miss having him here to share his life experiences that helped to guide me. But as I sat looked down at the stacks of papers I was so incredibly grateful that he had put into writing so many of his thoughts because even though he isn’t here with me anymore, I can still read his papers and learn from him. What an incredible gift it was for him to leave those written letters and papers behind for his posterity.

Because many of the papers had been written or typed up so long ago the edges were tattered and many of the printed pages were fading really badly. It really made me stop and recognize how important it is for all of us to preserve the important documents, letters, journals, papers, and photos of our parents and grandparents and other family members before they are lost or destroyed or they simply deteriorate.

“I wish I had realized that family history is a perishable commodity. It disappears with time, as memories fade, and as loved ones pass on. I wish I had known that the most important aspect of family history is preserving a record of the present for the future.” -Guy Black

Four hours may seem like of time to spend in an evening but consider this – those four hours of scanning preserved my Grandfather’s words of wisdom and life experiences for me and my children and their children and so on for generations to come …really, could there have been any better use for four hours of my time tonight???

Too often we don’t make preserving important family histories and photos a big enough priority in our lives. And yet when ancestors die that is all we have left of them. And when we die it is all our children and grandchildren will have left of us. That’s why we NEED to make the time to gather important family documents and journals and photos and make sure we get them scanned in and stored on digital drives that can be backed up and shared. You can also upload these documents and photos of ancestors to the www.familysearch.org website so other family members can access them.

“I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted.”  –Spencer Kimball

Preserve your memories. Someday your Great-Grandchildren will rejoice in the fact that they have the opportunity to know exactly who you were and they will treasure learning from your words of wisdom you took the time to share with them. Have a fabulous day 🙂

My cute Grandfather

My cute Grandfather

~Amy Rees Anderson


  • Jane says:

    My journals are my written prayers to God. I keep them so my family can see the I really do pray for them every day. Last year, though, I typed up the handwritten journal of a friend’s grandfather. It was from the period of 1934 to 1947. It was something the family was doing for their father. I printed it on antique-look paper, made a cover and had it spiral bound so it would be easy for the family to pass around. The pages of the diary were all written on loose leaf paper and had been rewritten already. You are a wonderful daughter to scan everything for your mom.

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