3.4.1 Introduction

George Jacobs is one of the singaporean founders of HealthPartners.sg. Here are some of the life stories that George has shared. Please consider sharing your own life stories. Thanks

 

Revised January 2020

I never thought I’d write a memoir; I’m more interested in thinking about the present and the future than about the past. I wrote this memoir because of my plan to teach memoir writing, and how could I teach something that I had never done? So, I wrote this memoir so that I can use it, or at least parts of it, as samples for my future memoir-writing students.

Why do I want to teach memoir writing? Here are reasons why I want to encourage others to write their memoirs.

1. Memoir writing can be an intergenerational activity. Not only can younger generations read the memoir, they can also help in putting it together.

2. It can be done in any language.

3. In addition to words, pictures, videos, art work, etc. can be added or can even be the main content, instead of words. Also, audio versions can be done, along with or instead of written versions. So, even people who don’t like writing can do a memoir.

4. Memoirs help people with memory loss hang on to their memories. My 91-year-old father-in-law has a weak memory; so, multiple times a day, he writes things down in a journal.

5. Technology makes memoir writing easier to do and makes the memoir easier to share.

6. Memoir writing is flexible. A memoir can be as short as a few pages, or they can be much longer and multi-volume.

7. People of any age can write memoirs, e.g., athletes write autobiographies before they retire. People can create new volumes of their memoirs as they grow older.

8. Memoir-writing can be a group activity, as people form informal writers’ groups to share their drafts with each other. Such groups give advice and encouragement.

I’m not sure what expectations you, my readers, might have for this memoir, but let me lower your expectations a bit, so that you are less likely to be disappointed. First, instead of trying to give a complete picture of my life so far, I’m just going to give selected excerpts. I wouldn’t call them “greatest hits”; instead, they are what I found most interesting to remember at the time. As a result, I have had a good time writing this memoir, and I’m still writing it, as ideas come to me. Special thanks go to Len Brown, a family friend. Len is now in his 90s, and has completed the third volume of his memoirs, all written in the anecdotal style that I have used to write this memoir.

The second reason this book may be disappointing is that while I haven’t had anything like a “juicy”, sensationalistic life, I haven’t even included any of my even mildly juicy incidents. Sorry about that. I just want you to know that in advance. Along with not including the few juicy moments in my life, I didn’t use many people’s names, because nowadays, people use the internet to find information on people and then to use that information maliciously.

Two other things that may disappoint readers of this memoir are:

  • It doesn’t say much about my years after 1993, when my wife and I moved to Singapore, where we are now citizens;
  • People who know me may be likely to look for their names or the names of those they know in this volume (that’s what I would do if I was reading the memoir of someone I knew), but I decided to use very few names, to avoid hurting people’s feelings by leaving out their names. Maybe that wasn’t a good strategy.

In conclusion, although I never thought that I would write a memoir, but now that I’ve done it, I’m glad I did, and like my friend Len Brown, in the future, I may write more volumes of this memoir. Plus, I encourage everyone reading this to write your own memoirs, or even just one or two stories from your lives. It’s a great way to relive some of the meaningful and memorable times we have experienced, to reflect on them, and to share them with others.