Here at Live On, we’ve been honored to share life stories with a variety of individuals and couples. You would think the preponderance of people interested in recording their histories would be elders whose offspring want to preserve family stories; and for sure, those have been plentiful. But we’ve also encountered people in unique circumstances who recognized the importance of leaving a legacy for family and friends.
Alan was only 53 when he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. A scientist and world traveler, he was in contact with clinical trials happening all over the world. So he used his contacts to get him into as many potentially life-saving opportunities as possible. He beat the one-year prognosis by an additional 18 months, but sadly the disease won. During his pre-cancer years, he was a sperm donor for some friends who could not conceive their own child. When he realized he might not be around to share his life stories with that child in person, he recorded his history as a legacy for his unborn child.
John watched his mom, previously a gregarious teacher and grandparent of seven, slowly lose cognitive function to dementia. While her remote memory was intact, he determined to get her stories preserved. He knew she’d be more forthcoming within the Live On framework, rather than stringing together conversations among her immediate family. When the recordings were complete, he marveled at the stories and information she shared that he’d never heard before.
For Daniel, the decision to capture his parents’ stories came from his own challenges with life. Only 35 when he was rear-ended in a car accident, his injuries took several surgeries — and months — to heal. During his rehabilitation, he had a lot of time to think…about mortality, the preciousness of family, and who is really there for us when the chips are down. The parents of his college roommate with whom he’d stayed in touch, and who actually gave him his first job out of school, were the surprise support people during his recovery, given that his immediate family were across the country. He was entertained by their life stories during the hours they spent with him in and out of the hospital. In gratitude, he gifted them with Live On’s program so they could officially collect those stories forever.
Several couples who came of age during World War II, the Vietnam War, etc., found each other in interesting ways and enjoyed telling those stories for their grandchildren. The 20th century’s Great Depression, the Great Migration, the turbulent ‘60s, and the advent of dramatic technical advances spawned stories their grandchildren could only imagine. But seeing their beloved grannies inhabit that history brings it to life.
Every life has its own trajectory, one that only the person living it can truly tell. And every person alive is a essentially a story waiting to be told. The fast pace of our culture makes it harder to take the time to preserve our stories. But it’s worth stopping the merry-go-round long enough to tell those nuggets of unique experience…before it’s too late.