Story Lines

So what do Charlie Rose, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro have in common, that is besides the fact that they are all A-list celebs?  They all have used the word “regret” in interviews to describe their feelings about not recording their parents’ life stories.  

Charlie Rose makes his comment at the end of a 13-minute interview with the author Pico Iyer on Feb. 8, 2012. Mr. Iyer’s book, The Man Within My Head, is part memoir, part travel diary about his fascination with the English author, Graham Greene. In discussing how one may actually feel closer to an author or other artist than to one’s own parents, Mr. Iyer said he may not want to know too much about his parents. Charlie Rose disagreed saying we usually do not know enough and regret it later.

Charlie “I have this idea, and it may seem simple, that the great regret that I have, even though I was close to both parents,… I do deeply regret that, with all the skills that I have, that I did not go to them in an informal, intimate, casual way and record, for all time, who they were, who they thought they were, who they wanted to be, what had made a difference, what had made them happy and sad, what had they loved … That’s part of family and the ongoing process of generations…”

Pico Iyer agreed, saying yes, he did want to know more than he does. The entire interview is interesting, even if you are not familiar with either Pico Iyer or Graham Greene. And everyone should especially heed Charlie Rose making such a persuasive appeal for the importance of recording your parents’ stories. Check it out at:

Here’s another example of a well-known person saying the same thing. Parade Magazine interviewed Michelle Pfeiffer recently about “Love and Family”. (5/6/12) When the subject of her Dad came up she expressed sadness at a missed opportunity. He died 12 years ago at a relatively early age and she said, “One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t get his life story before he died. I didn’t dig it out of him …”

As for Robert De Niro, I came to his interview in Esquire some time ago through a reference to it in a magazine. I printed it out and held on to it because it really captured the need for people to take action, to not have to regret. As I pointed out on this website’s Mission Page, he said, “I always wanted to chronicle the family history with my mother. She was always interested in that … But I wasn’t forceful and I didn’t make it happen.  That’s one regret I have. I didn’t get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids.” (Esquire, 12/31/02)

These are just 3 examples I happened to come across. I’m sure there are many others. They all point to the fact that while it’s something many of us want and intend to do, we often put it off until it’s too late. DO it! Either on your own or with our help. You won’t regret it!