In the fall of 1989, I purchased a copy of The Grandparent’s Video Interview Kit (TM), and took it along with my camcorder (a well-used Magnavox VHS at the time) down to Los Angeles where my wife and I produced separate Grandparent Interviews for both my mother and father.
It was great. I heard stories and learned things about my parents that I had no clue about in all my 39 years as their son.
Wonderful stories of my parents growing up in the Midwest. How my father became a doctor. How a picture of my mother clowning around ended up on a hospital bulletin board (she didn’t believe there was film in my dad’s camera.) How my mother’s parents had serious doubts about her marrying someone so much older (she was 21, he was 26.) What it was like for them the day I was born.
There was more — much, much more. Why my grandparents had to move their wedding ceremony across the street (their marriage license was for the wrong county) and why their first home was made out of sod. How my other grandfather’s life was saved by his dog. So many enchanting tales I can’t remember them all.
And two years later, both parents were gone. My father from cancer, my mother from HIV caused by a contaminated blood transfusion.
My wife and I have a handful of possessions we consider so valuable that we keep them in a safe deposit box. My parents’ original videos are two of these (we have copies at home to watch.)
My children, who were four and two at the time, will remember their grandparents because of these videos. And my future grandchildren will get to meet their great-grandparents someday — a feat possible only because of my parents’ willingness to sit in front of a video camera for a couple of hours and have a pleasant conversation with their daughter-in-law.
My parents did leave behind a little money. They left behind photographs. We have my mother’s jewelry, my father’s WWII dog tags.
But more importantly, they left behind something that has a value transcending any price that can possibly be put on it. They left behind history, thoughts, philosophy. They left behind their voices, their mannerisms, their hopes, their hard-won
Sometimes, as I watch my children grow and gather their own lessons, I doubt the value of my own life learnings. Then I remember to look, as my parents’ son, at the legacy contained in their interviews.
And I know what gift I will give my children, too.
You can easily do the same. You can give a gift that will shine for generations of your family to come.
Your legacy will be valuable, indeed.
– Alan Fitch