What I got from creating a Life Story for my family!
In 2010 I originally record the Life Story of my uncle for entirely selfish reasons only to discover that I could do so much more for others and myself than I could have every imagined.
In 2007 when I started Your Story I decided that I needed to take the time at some stage to record my eldest remaining uncle in my father’s family before it was too late and learn of the history that only he knows. But you know how it is? Life got in the way and the months turned into years only to be reminded from time to time that I needed to act soon but then again I became distracted. Well in February last year I decided that I just had to book a date to travel and make the time to sit with Bill or else one day it would be too late and I’d curse my procrastination. Fortunately for my family I did, as we now have all of his stories to listen to and share and fortunately for us he’s still in our lives and can share in his own Life Story and what it means for us.
What I wanted
I started this project with the idea of getting information. The people, places and understanding of our greater family type information. During the process of recording Bill, I did managed to get that information. Not everything, somethings he didn’t want to discuss or he’s forgotten but what I did learn was more than we had before so my initial goal was achieved but there were other things that I didn’t expect to come from the whole experience that possibly may be of more and greater value than just getting information.
As Jane mentioned about the unexpected surprises of what she achieved from her fathers Life Story there are things that aren’t expected that can develop from taking the time to record someone’s Life Story.
I managed to spend a considerable amount of time with Bill, which gave us an opportunity to connect in ways that we had never been fortunate to do in the past. You can’t rush someone in their late 80’s so we lived by the body clock that suited him, with plenty of tea and the occasional nap but over the days Bill got used to me being around and slowly we recorded the six hours of audio that became his Life Story. In amongst that time I scanned photos and documents from his life and spent some time videoing him around his home and interests. All of this brought us closer together and gave me a connection to him in ways that I didn’t expect.
What it means to them
As is the case with the therapeutic use of recording a person’s Life Story, things were shifting also for Bill. After I completed the initial recording his daughter mentioned that he’d said to her, “I don’t know why Ian want to record me, but oh well…”.
At the time the recording didn’t seem that important but I know he enjoyed having me around and telling his story but couldn’t see what we would see in his stories.
This past week-end it was time to bring it all together for Bill’s 90th birthday celebrations. All the usual family members assembled with his friends from the local community to wish him a happy birthday, where I revealed two videos for everyone to see for the first time. These videos you can see below are the assemblage of snippets of audio associated with the images that I had available to tell the visual story of his life along with a little of who he is today. We played these videos on the large screen to absolute silence bar the occasional sniffle and wiping of eyes.
Bill like many men of his generation (my father included) don’t show their emotions and rarely pay compliments directly to anyone but the measure of the impact of these videos is the heartfelt look in Bill’s eyes as he held my hand, shook it and thanked me for a bloody good job. For his generation this is tantamount to screaming his appreciation from the roof tops.
Different impact from alternative systems of a life story
The long form audio contains all the interesting detailed information and with time to listen to it, family can learn a great deal but there is something just as powerful in taking some of this information and creating a short, concise, and poignant presentation that shows what we think of a person and share that with them.
Too often a presentation like this is left until after life as part of the eulogy or to reminiscence about someone but to create a Life Story and share it with them and the greater family is akin to opening the flood gates of possibilities.
Rather than action, I’ve discovered from Bill’s Life Story…
- Great way to express affection that they understand
- Involves other in the story
- Audio for long form conversations
- Video for emotionally impacting and consice storytelling
- Continues to evolve with time
- Recorded early gives them the chance to appreciate the stories and impact
- Spills over to encourage others to become involved in recording Life Stories
Have you seen an impact from a Life Story that you didn’t expect? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Interesting Links from this Post
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← If you want to hear some other great stories about the interesting lives that people have, listen to my other podcast at Your Story or on iTunes.
…Or have a look at some other great shows available at LifeStyle Pod Network→
Music is from
“Strawberry Hill” (mp3)
from “Harlem – Kingston Express Live!”
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“Fit To Battle” (mp3)
from “The Gospel According To Jazz – Chapter III”
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