Elyse Kallen

“Grandpa, tell me a story.”The sixty years that separated me and my grandfather didn’t make it easy for us to connect. Our personalities, our hobbies and our perceptions of the world were diametrically opposed, and more often than not, our visits were marked by awkward silence.

However, with those five little words, I found the key to unlocking one of the most meaningful relationships of my life. What started as a trickle of anecdotes about his childhood evolved over the years into hours-long conversations about the twists and turns of a life fully lived. His memories of his parents, his friends and his community became the foundation upon which we grew to understand each other.

Through those stories, I met someone new: He ceased to simply be a gray-haired man who sat in the chair across from me and became a fellow human being with his own triumphs and failures, loves and losses, and a treasure trove of experiences to share. I discovered that generation gap wasn’t so wide after all. Although he can no longer tell me those stories for the fifteenth time, his words ring in my ears every day as I make my way in a world that’s different but not unrecognizable from the one he lived in.

These days, my grandpa’s stories aren’t the only ones I immerse myself in. I’m a Chicago-based creative writer, avid photographer, amateur genealogist and collector of an unhealthy number of hobbies. As I write plays, short stories and a blog that explores tales overlooked by history, I strive to keep story arc, lively characters, narrative detail and all the other elements of a good story at the heart of each project. Professionally, I’ve made a career of distilling complex ideas from the health care, education policy and political sectors and weaving them into engaging communications for diverse audiences.

Taken together, my creative and analytical experiences have prepared me to support you as you tell the story of your life to your loved ones. I’m living proof of the power that sharing memories has to forge and strengthen relationships; I would be honored to help you and your family enrich those connections through life-writing with bioGraph.