At one point in the seminar I asked the participants what their deadline was for completing their family histories. I went on to relate the story of actor Robert DeNiro who had always intended to get his family stories down, but couldn’t when his mother died. He told an interviewer, “One regret I have: I didn't get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids.” I looked at one of the women in the group as I was completing DeNiro’s story. There were tears in her eyes. “My father just died,” she said.
We couldn’t have found a more graphic, if somewhat uncomfortable, way of illustrating the importance of getting your stories preserved before they are lost. If you have elderly relatives whose stories you want to collect do it now. If you at least record your loved one’s stories they can be transcribed and organized into a book later. But you need to act to make sure that the stories are preserved.