I think the most useful thing you can do as a writer is to reconstruct real life with all its color, hardship, joy, and intrigue. If you're interested in people, you honor them best, I think, by making the fullest possible picture of them. Your subjects may - and from my experience probably will - protest your portrait of them.
A lot of Polish and Russian Jews had this experience: they would emigrate, thinking they were on their way to New York. Then their captains would stop in Dublin and say, 'Everybody off.' They would leave, and by the time they discovered they weren't in America, they didn't have enough money to continue.
My mother had seven children in seven years. No twins. She also had a three-legged beagle who was compelled to bite strangers, a freakishly big double-pawed tomcat who regularly left dead rabbits on the front doorstep, and 70 white mice that one or another of us had smuggled home from my father's research laboratory.