Aging Successfully: The gift of true stories

Before starting this month’s column, I want to share how reader Karen Whiteside emailed with wise suggestions for putting our affairs in order (April 2020 column, “Putting our affairs in order”). One is we should make arrangements for our pets, and another is it would be wise to place important contact information in the glove box of our vehicles in case of an accident. Thank you, Karen.

What are your earliest memories of family or historical stories? Which of those stories have you passed on?

This time of isolation provides each of us the opportunity to stop and analyze just how important specific family stories are to us. We all understand how stories have been important to humans since the beginning of time. Drawings of great battles on cave walls provide one example, out of thousands, of how people used stories to preserve important historical events for future generations.

My friend and colleague Sandy Frykholm has written a memoir, documenting how in 1965 her family journeyed from rural Alaska to go on a tour of North America. In this book she tells how the trip brought to life the current events of that year. Examples are the Civil Rights movement, the acceleration of the Viet Nam War and the Space Race.

Sandy’s book, “The Drive in ’65” by Sandra Lynne Reed (her pen name), will be published this summer. I look forward to reading it and encourage you to check it out.

My siblings and I inherited valuable antique books. Unfortunately, some were too damaged and needed tossed. One of those was an account of the Black Plague written by Daniel DeFoe, a younger contemporary of William Shakespeare. Can you imagine how valuable that book would be today, if undamaged?

On Facebook I posted this story and told of my grief in not being able to read the book. The other day a friend who had read my Facebook post told me how has free downloads of this book. In the last month approximately 40,000 people have downloaded a copy of DeFoe’s small book. I am one of those people, and I look forward to reading his account of that horrendous time in Europe’s history.

My friend Jodi Pappas shared how she felt led to journal about the novel coronavirus, and to publish her journal. I told Jodi about Daniel DeFoe’s book and encouraged her to write about this current virus and pandemic.

One final example is as children my mother and her sister had a special playhouse in their back yard — the wagon train their great-grandfather used as transportation to bring his family to the Oregon Territory in 1850.

Stories are valuable tools for teaching and inspiring us as well as for preserving our human history. The saying that history would be kind to him for he would write his own has been attributed to Winston Churchill. What stories and history do we want to write for ourselves and our families?

Which of the stories you learned as a child have been the most meaningful to you?

This month I am offering a contest for my readers who live in Clallam County. On Thursday, May 28, the first three readers to email me a favorite family story and the impact that particular story had on them will receive a signed copy of one of my books.

Send your stories to I promise to personally read each one.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.