1st Sep '20

LiveBetter Memoirs Project

Some of you may remember the hugely popular Australian TV Show “This is your Life” which aired in the 70s, 80’s and 90’s, during which the host would surprise guests by documenting their life.

Well, while Paulette Compton, 80, of Orange didn’t appear on the show, she recently opted into a pilot life stories project to record her memoirs.

The Memoirs Project, run during the COVID pandemic by LiveBetter, was offered to aged care customers receiving home care services. Paulette, who lives in her own home with her husband Ray, was one of five Central West residents who took part.

“My home care worker asked if I’d be interested in doing a book about my life, and I just said yes that would be alright. So, we started talking about it, where I was born and all that sort of thing. It was all true stories and was emotionally hard in some places,” she said.

LiveBetter home care worker Lee Pickett interviewed Paulette a couple of times in person and four times by phone. The six sessions allowed Lee to collect enough anecdotes to meld into a written narrative. With some light editing and the help of a local graphic designer, the mini book was published.

According to Paulette, her memoirs turned out really well and any day now, her two adult children should receive a copy.

“I’ve told them different things about our lives, but really I hadn’t told them that much, particularly from the days before they were born. When they see it all in print, I’m not sure what they’ll think,” said Paulette.

They’ll get some inkling why their grandfather never drank normal cow’s milk - only the condensed stuff - and the impact of the Second World War on him.

Mark and Paul will also get more insight into their mum’s younger years. They’ll understand why Paulette loved playing tunnel ball as a child, how she left school in sixth class, keen to work, and how by age 15 she had met her future husband Ray and their father, with whom she’d make many visits to dance halls in inner-Sydney.

Paulette’s memoirs capture many more highlights and lowlights that she’s packed into her eight decades. According to Lee Pickett, it was a “real privilege” listening to her and other LiveBetter participants’ stories.

“It was lovely for them to be able to open up because sometimes they didn’t have family nearby. It also was great to get to know our participants better,” she said.

Once the book had been printed, Lee delivered it by hand.

“Paulette was thrilled, and it was something I really wanted to do,” she said.

While you won’t see Paulette and the other pilot group participants’ books on the best-seller list - they’ve only done tiny print runs just for family members - it’s a great nudge to us all. We all have our own stories to how we got to where we are. Isn’t it time you share more about yourself with your family?