The following is an article from the January 2019 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at www.carolinafep.com/library/newsletters/ or subscribe for free at www.carolinafep.com/newsletter.cfm
When I was in high school, we had a semester-long family history project that included researching our family tree and interviewing our eldest relatives. When it came time for me to do the interview for my project, I headed over to my Great Aunt Bertha's. At the time, she was 101 years old. She was the oldest resident of Massachusetts, and she ultimately lived until just shy of her 110th birthday!
When I interviewed her, Aunt Bertha was living independently in the same home she had lived in for years, still doing her own housework and baking fresh bread. When we sat down to talk, she shared wonderful stories, rich with history, as she had lived through multiple wars, witnessed the invention of cars and airplanes, and more. It was an amazing experience I will never forget, and it was wonderful to be able to share the recordings with my other family members.
Now, years later, I can't tell you how often clients and friends who visit our office tell us about listening to an old saved voicemail over and over, just to hear their loved one’s voice one more time.
Rather than leaving your family with a voicemail that could get deleted, why not leave a more meaningful, intentional message? With today’s technology, this has become easier than ever.
Using your phone or a digital recorder, record your stories, memories, values, and messages for loved ones. Then download them and store them in a safe location. Consider backing them up to a cloud-based storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or similar. Not tech savvy? Don't have a smartphone? (We love our flip phone club!) Don’t panic: ask a family member or friend to assist you.
Struggling with what to talk about? NPR's StoryCorps can help. StoryCorps was founded "to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world" by traveling around the country capturing people’s stories.
While you might not be ready to publicly record your story with StoryCorps, they provide tools on their website to help anyone preserve and share their own story with the audience they choose. Those tools include a great list of questions to help start the conversation at storycorps.org/participate/great-questions You will probably want to jot down a few notes before you start recording.
A word of caution: you may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed at first. It's normal to feel anxious about public speaking or being on video. Push through. This is a gift for your dearest loved ones. The listeners have already seen you at your best and at your worst, through your ups and your downs. The recording will mean so much to your family that it’s worth pushing past the discomfort. And of course, today’s technology makes it easy to start over if you really goof! And if the words aren’t flowing smoothly that day, or you’re just not in the right mood, you can always try again tomorrow... Just don't put it off indefinitely. Make it the priority it deserves to be.
"Inside each of us is a natural-born storyteller, waiting to be released.”--Robin Moore, Author