Game of Life looks like the next writing project. As I think about it now, it would be a memoir. As with Infamy, my thinking about this book has evolved, and I haven’t even started the project yet! I’d like to write a memoir made up of episodes. To succeed with an episodic memoir – that is, one that does not account for your whole life – you need good prompts, and a good conception of your audience.

A possible source of prompts from your experience with two games: FreeCell and chess. Your audience is easy. It is Will. Just as you are interested in what your grandfather wrote, Will may be interested in what you write. Perhaps you should use your grandfather’s letters as prompts for your writing, rather than chess and FreeCell. At this point, I’ll use anything that works!

Associative memory takes you back in a lot of different ways. You smell a turkey roasting and think of a Thanksgiving dinner forty years ago. You hear a song that reminds you of when you were young. You see a photograph of a place or a person. You go to a place from your past: now you can recall the thoughts you had during that visit. You find something among your possessions that you have saved for a long time. You run across something you wrote a long time ago, such as a paper, a journal, or a letter. Video recordings can really get your memories going.

You just need to unlock these recollections. Write down stories in a way that makes sense to you, and to your grandson. You might even start these stories with “Dear Will,”. Then people would know who you’re talking to. That’s a little narrow, though, as I’m talking to Rob and Emily, too.

Let’s give it a try.

Dear Will,

As my father – your great-grandfather Al – reached the last part of his life, I urged him to write down stories from his youth. I was curious about his boyhood in Valley City, his experiences in the service during World War II, and memories of his life as a young man before I was born. He was born in 1924, so he was thirty years old before I was born in 1954. By the time I remember anything about him in Valley City, he was thirty-six. That’s a lot of years.

Al wrote some notes, but did not pull his memories together into stories that reached me. I believe Laura has those notes. I have not seen what shape they’re in.

Your great-grandmother Johnna left even less about her early life. Papers and stories related to her early years would be in Dutch, and she did not write a memoir or recollections later in life.

That’s going to do it for tonight, Will. My eyelids become a little heavy around this time of night! Time to take a bath.



P. S. If you would like to read a letter from your great-great-grandfather Albert, written in October 1917, please visit http://sgreffenius2.wordpress.com.