I recently met with a sweet woman, Ann, and her children in her beautiful home on a rainy afternoon. As I sat in the living room, her daughters discussed some of the concerns they had about their mother living alone. She had been more and more forgetful. And even though it had been over a year since her husband passed away, she continued to ask often where Jim was. Ann sat quietly listening, but seemed somewhat un-engaged from the conversation. As her daughters spoke to me about what kind of care they were looking to put in place for their Mom, I watched as Ann glanced around the room, at old photos, and smiled just slightly to herself at each photo that she looked at. Ann’s daughter asked if she could get me a glass of water, and while she was doing this, I turned to Ann and asked her “So where are you in all of these pictures?”. She looked up at me with her crisp blue eyes, and for the first time, I saw her smile, ear to ear! This same frail little woman, perked right up and began talking to me, almost in a youth like tone, about each picture, and the story that each picture told. She told me all about how she met her husband, how they were high school sweethearts. She told me about having her first child, the oldest daughter. She told me stories of happiness, and heartache, and of joy, along with pain. Even though she couldn’t recall what she ate for breakfast that morning, she was able to tell me, in detail, about how wonderful her mother’s homemade oatmeal was, and how much she loved making that for her daughters once she became a mother herself. Her eyes lit up every time she shared these small moments of her life. It got me thinking of my own memories, and milestones in life, and how important it is not to take those moments for granted. I ended up spending some time talking to Ann’s daughter’s about helping her Mom to create a memory book. There are COUNTLESS ideas out there, and you can make your book however you would like, to make it personal for your loved one. The simple joy that can come from sharing memories and stories are so incredible. Here are some topics to get you started:


Many recall their childhood better than more recent times, so include as much as possible.

  • Date and place of birth
  • Names of parents and their occupations, did they immigrate?
  • Names and birth order of siblings
  • Community they lived in, was it famous for something or major businesses?
  • Schools they attended, favorite subjects, teachers, pranks
  • How they spent their time as a child: hobbies, pets, sports, friends, church
  • Holidays and special events


One of the most influential life stages.

  • Graduation and subjects liked and disliked in school
  • Dates, first kiss, great loves
  • Cars
  • First jobs
  • First time living on their own
  • Favorite foods

Young Adult

  • College and work, any awards?
  • Marriage, lots of wedding details
  • Military service
  • First home or apartment
  • Starting a family
  • Vacations and travel

Middle Age

  • Grandchildren
  • Hobbies
  • Community and club activities
  • Politics

Later years

  • Achievements and Awards
  • Volunteering
  • Hobbies, new skills learned
  • Travel
  • Most important lesson learned from life

More Questions to Ask:

  • How did you enjoy spending New Year’s Eve or your vacation?
  • Do you have a favorite book, movie, song or color?
  • Are you more of a pessimist or optimist?
  • Did you hold on to the first dollar you ever made, or spend it immediately?
  • What 3 favorite things would you want on a deserted island?
  • Are you more comfortable in the company of men, women or pets?
  • What really makes you sparkle or happy?

What advice do you have for future generations?

  • Politics and political parties
  • Getting along with others
  • Money, both cash and credit
  • Happiness
  • Religion
  • Raising kids
  • Coping with hard times
  • Love
  • Giving
  • Work
  • Marriages

If you had your life to live over, what one thing would you do differently?