“A Gift of Memories,” Tambuli, Oct. 1989, 33
Last year I did something I’ve wanted to do for years—I gave my parents a book filled with letters from their friends and family. These letters recalled cherished experiences and expressed love and respect for my parents. As a result, my parents were reminded that there are many people who need them, love them, and look to them for inspiration and as an example.
I wasn’t surprised at the number of people who thought of someone they wanted to honor in this way. But I was surprised that everyone seemed convinced it was too difficult for them to do.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Compiling this book was one of the most exciting and enjoyable things I have ever done. I discovered things about my parents that I had never known before. Some of the letters made me laugh, like the one from an old friend who told me about a live chicken that laid an egg on center stage during my Dad’s big scene in the school play. Other letters told of experiences that filled me with overwhelming love and respect, such as the letter I received from a couple who gave my parents credit for inspiring them to marry in the temple.
Based on my experience, here are some suggestions for creating a book of joy, love, and memories:
1. Compile a list of the names and addresses of all the friends and family members that you can think of. Don’t worry if it isn’t complete at first—you can add to it as you go along.
2. Send a letter such as the one that follows:
I would like to honor my parents, (insert their names here), this year (at Christmas, on their wedding anniversary, on their birthdays, etc.) with a book filled with highlights from their past. I want include letters, stories, memories, and photographs that will remind them of the joy they are to us and others.
Would you please help me with this project by writing down some of your memories of your relationship with Mom and Dad? If you prefer to tape-record your thoughts, I will transcribe them; or you may call and give me the information over the phone, and I will type it. Whatever you send will be treasured.
You can help me further by sending me the names and addresses of other friends of my parents so that I can ask them to participate in the project as well.
I appreciate you help. I am sure you can understand how much this will mean to my parents.
Type the letter and mail copies of it to the people on your list.
3. As the letters come in, check the names off your list. Add any new names and addresses you receive, then mail letters to those people.
4. Compile the incoming letters in a book. A photo album, three-ring binder, or padded notebook all work well. The letters can be arranged in alphabetical order with a table of contents at the beginning so they can be easily located. Or they can be divided into sections representing different times in your parents’ lives.
Before you give the book to your parents, you may want to make copies of it to share with your brothers and sisters.