I don’t know when it happened, but years ago I realized that there were members of my family that I didn’t want to lose when they died. Who would? Actually, there was one member, a sister, with whom I had a very special relationship and she was advancing in years. I didn’t want to lose her, but life and death allows us no options there.
No, but what do you do? Do you keep a scrapbook as we did in our family and look at photos, nothing more than photos, or a bit of jewelry or clothing? The photos fade and without sufficient notes, you don’t even know who they are anymore.
A distant relative told me she has books and books of people she has no idea who they are. I believe my mother and grandmother must be in those books. We had a photo of a woman in one of those photo studio shots fashionable around the turn of the 20th Century of a woman I was told was a grandmother. I’d never met her. The books are not sufficient and it fails to preserve the person as we might want.
It didn’t take long before I bought a small attachment for my home phone that would allow me to talk to one specific relative and record our conversations. When I went to her home, I took my video attachment for my cell phone with me. It was a wonderful thing that slipped like a case over the phone and used a mirror so no one ever knew I was making videos. At one or two luncheons, I put a small digital recorder on the table to capture our conversation. It was noticed and I dismissed it as nothing and that explanation was accepted. The conversation went on.
I’d told other people to begin immortalizing their loved ones using our latest technology because they will want it if they miss their opportunity. I have no idea whether or not my advice has been heeded and, if not, if there is a sense of “I should have.”
Once again, I urge you to do it now. To record family history, to talk about family issues about which you want more information. You will miss an incredible opportunity if this person dies and there is no one else to fill in the gaps that exist in your memory of events.
I have videos that memorialize events in our family, with other family members, that now provide me with comfort. I can see her, healthy, enjoying our family and I can see her sick. Each brings joy and tears, but I cherish all of them.
The taping and the recording was stopped just weeks before she died because I felt to do so would be an invasion neither of us wanted. She was entitled to her privacy during those final weeks and I knew that. For that reason, the taping stopped not during her hospitalization, but in her home. I have never regretted that action.
Now, when I want to hear her voice or see her kidding around with me or any members of the family, or eating a meal with us, I can do it. Not in my memory but in a video that brings her essence back to me without the filter of faulted memory.
Think about doing it for yourself and your family.