Saturday, October 11, 2008

Capture Life Stories NOW

My dear friend, Karen, suffers from a blood clotting disorder that has caused several strokes. At a very young age (30’s?), she worked diligently to successfully overcome the effects of two strokes. Unfortunately, she has now had another one and is just beginning the rehabilitation to get her life back.

Karen has such a wonderful, positive attitude that she can and will (literally) walk again, that I have no doubt she will succeed. She has tickets to see Tina Turner in concert toward the end of October, so she set her first therapy goal – to walk into the concert, even if it is with the help of crutches, a cane or even a walker.

Karen’s precarious situation has reinforced for me one extremely important fact. We never know when life can strike a blow to all of our carefully laid out plans. In fact, there is an old joke that asks, “How do you make God laugh?” The answer is, “Tell Him you have plans.”

Our elderly population is especially vulnerable to life’s little side trips and that is why it is so important to capture their stories before it is too late. I use a small inexpensive digital recorder (Sony ICD-P520) to capture conversations with friends and family.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the 90th birthdays of both my Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law. And you can bet I’ll have my trusty little recorder at the ready for any reminiscing they do. Life is too short to miss out on sharing these gems with the rest of the family.


Barbara Sher said...

Thanks for this reminder, Beth.

I have a question about interviewing elderly people. I wonder if some of us avoid the people we love when they grow older because it's painful to realize we'll lose them one day. Someone I know told me he was often short with his mother and didn't realize why until one day it hit him that he was angry and hurt that she was getting old and would leave him. He said he was embarrassed about having such a childish feeling, but the realization made him stop being angry at her, so he was glad it happened.

Have you ever heard of or felt anything like this?

Elizabeth (Beth) LaMie said...

That is an excellent question & I am glad your friend recognized the reason for his behavior. In fact, I see that happening right now with my husband and his Mother. She is 90 and some days she does not know who he is. That bothers him so much that he almost doesn't want to see her.

I see the same happen with people who are seriously ill. Family & friends may be reluctant to go see them, either because they don't know what to say, or because they want to "remember them as they were."

Both of those reasons are understandable, but unfortunately, that tends to leave our loved ones alone when they need us the most.

When we do go to see them, it is important to carry on as normal a conversation as possible. Sometimes it helps to bring along favorite photos or memorabilia as a nudge for reminiscing.

Rachel Cornell said...

It's your book that has motivated me to record conversations with my 81 year old father.

Brought my recorder with me for our last visit.

I turned on the recorder and asked him why, even now, he invests so much of his time volunteering.

I would have never gotten the gem of an answer I got if I didn't directly ask him this question.

He told me “it's simply how he pays for the gifts he has been given in his life.”

Thanks Beth for this priceless opportunity you have pointed out to me.


Elizabeth (Beth) LaMie said...

I am gratified that my book on capturing family stories motivated you to record conversations with your elderly Dad. I would give anything if I had gotten involved years ago to capture my own Dad's words.