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  • Creative Writing

    Granny’s Memoirs – a Memory-Keeping Notebook

    When I asked about the best gift for grandma, a friend of mine suggested a memory-keeping notebook. Health, education and wealth notwithstanding, there is something that all seniors share. It is their need for intimacy and willingness to leave something behind.

    How to create a memory-keeping notebook?

    You may design a photo book with scanned pictures from your granny’s childhood, wedding or other important occasions. It will be much more durable than a scrapbook and you will only need to borrow, not to take pictures from your granny’s albums.

    Yet, frankly speaking, you may just as well go to your grandma with an ordinary notebook and well-prepared questions. The time you spend together and your effort to find out things about her and preserve her memories will surely be appreciated.

    How to fill the memory-keeping notebook?

    There are two options. If your granny likes writing, she can write down her memories as a gift for her grandchildren.

    I am much more in favour of the second option, though, in which granny tells her story, answering the questions from the notebook, and her grandchildren listen carefully and note down her answers.


    Not every granny enjoys writing, and some seniors have difficulties writing due to poor sight or trembling hands.

    – Filling in the notebook together, you will satisfy the need for intimacy and spend time together with your granny.

    – Listening to your grandma’s story, you will learn more details than from a written account.

    Questions for a memory-keeping notebook

    Ask your granny about her family: mother, father, grandmother and grandfather. Let her describe her childhood, school time, the love of her life – your grandfather, and her workplace. Help her write down about her children and grandchildren. And don’t forget to mention your granny’s hobbies and interests – past and present.

    You may also ask more personal questions:

    If your granny had a paid job try to find out what her first day at work looked like, what her greatest professional success was, what surprised her, and what she spent her first salary on.

    If she lived in the countryside, she can say which farm jobs she enjoyed most and why. What did her day look like? Did the animals play tricks on her?

    If she likes cooking, ask her about her first soup, the first dish for grandpa, her favourite recipe and the greatest cooking secret.

    If her looks are important to her, ask about her favourite dress, sewing experience, most precious jewellery and the story of her wedding dress (who designed it, where was the material from, who sew it, what did it look like and what happened to it afterwards).

    If she has travelled a lot, which place on Earth does she find most beautiful, how did she feel when she left her hometown for the first time, does she remember her first boat/ train/ plane trip, how did she manage to communicate with natives abroad, did she notice cultural differences?

    I could continue, but it is you who know what distinguishes your granny from others and what you can ask her about to evoke pleasant memories. I would love to read your ideas!

    My advice:

    When listening, take notes or record your granny’s story. I once listened to my grandma mesmerized, but when I came back home and decided to write everything down, I could no longer remember any names of places and half of the dates.

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