COVID-19 is not stopping Lauren Befus from turning stories of a lifetime into family books.
Befus is the founder of Memory Lane Jane, a life story-writing company. Since she launched the company in 2017, she has been listening to families and preserving their stories that can be passed down.
Although she is not able to meet in-person with her clients, Befus is offering her clients remote life story interview-only packages for virtual meetings.
“I think that there is some kind of urgency happening right now that we are realizing that life doesn’t go on forever and it is important to preserve our loved ones,” she said, “especially our older loved ones’ stories in this time with everything that is happening in the world, and I think this is a great welcome distraction from world events to give older people especially at home something to do.”
Befus has completed nine books and is currently working on eight other books. Since she founded Memory Lane Jane, Befus said she has spent hours interviewing clients, who are generally between 80 and 90 years old. Her youngest client was 50 and her oldest was 99.
Afterward, they comb through decades of pictures, report cards, birth certificates, diary entries, favorite jokes, recipes or any mementos that serve as biographical visuals for their custom-made books.
Befus said they use the transcripts, she and a fellow writer, to craft her clients’ stories. Once it has been approved by the client, the manuscript is sent to a short-run printer. The books vary in shapes and sizes. Some of the covers are made of linen, leather or photos. A book takes, on average, nine to 12 months to complete.
“There is no time than right now to preserve our loved ones because we don’t know what tomorrow holds,” she said. “I’ve been spending my life hearing people’s stories and writing them for different publications and seeing the value every story has and preserving them. Even if it is just for their families, it doesn’t have to be a bestseller book. When children get their parents’ books, it is like a best-seller because it is their story.
“After years of all kinds of experiences working as a newspaper reporter, interviewing World War II veterans and hearing their stories and how incredible they were and (realizing) they never told anyone these stories before, I thought, ‘What in the world? We have to get these written down and preserved.’”