The Stories We Share Can Last for Generations to Come

Flora M Brown, Ph.D.
4 min readAug 30, 2019
Students share memories in Guided Autobiography workshop

One day when my oldest daughter was a toddler, she was reflecting on how much she loved her dad. “When I grow up, I’m going to marry Daddy.”

“But he’s already married,” I quickly pointed out.

Disappointed and shocked, she said, “To who?”

“To me!” I blurted too quickly.

“Oh!” surprised and sad, her head slowly drooped.

If I hadn’t written that story in my journal all those decades ago, I might have forgotten it. Now an adult, she doesn’t remember this encounter, and was a little embarrassed at her childhood naivete, but she was delighted that I remembered it and shared it with her.

The big events of our lives, such as graduation, weddings, and getting our first job are memorable, of course. But all the seemingly insignificant everyday experiences leading up to and following those times are the most precious memories of all. Those everyday events that we take for granted are pure gold. In them, we find our resilience, the birth of our attitudes and values, and proof of our courage and survival.

Pleasant memories shape our direction

When I was growing up, my mother owned a home-based beauty shop in what we nowadays would call the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri. She set it up in what would have been the living room of a “shotgun house,” where one room came right after another. The next room was her bedroom, with a convenient sliding wooden door that she closed when she was working, followed by the bedroom my sisters and I shared, with the bathroom off to the side a bit, followed by the kitchen, with the back door that led to a big backyard.

Her patrons were more than customers. They became friends to her and many times mentors to my two sisters and me. While my youngest sister took advantage of my mom’s preoccupation with her customers by taking off to play outdoors, I loved hanging around the beauty shop listening to the ladies’ stories, even though I didn’t always understand what they were saying. To keep me from recognizing the details and objects of their gossip, they would spell out key words. As soon as I became skilled at writing the alphabet and determined to crack the code, I’d sneak into the next room and eavesdrop as they…

Flora M Brown, Ph.D.

Author, course creator, and life story coach guiding memory keepers to write about the activities, choices, and beliefs that shaped their lives.