Sunday, July 20, 2014

Simple Means to Preserving Memories

Just this weekend, I took the opportunity to visit my great-aunt who lives thirty minutes north of me. I feel like it was a stroke of inspiration. Acting on a spontaneous thought, I made the drive and surprised her. What we gained from that visit was invaluable. Although we are relatives, our circumstances vary greatly. I am in my twenties working two jobs and staying very busy most days. She is now in her eighties, relying on oxygen, and staying at home. Rather than pitying her situation, I like to see that she is still as lucid and garrulous as she was ten years ago. At heart, this beautiful lady is the same woman I knew her to be in my younger days, only mortality has been less kind.

I had no real goal, only to share stories and information. We sat down and just talked. With her permission, I recorded the impromptu interview on my iPad Mini. Because of this simple act, I have preserved stories she may never tell again. This wonderful woman, who grew up with the grandfather I never met, could help me to feel close to him through stories of their childhood. My great-grandmother is no longer a face in a picture, but woman who lives in my memory and heart as a real individual.

Had I chosen to stay home today, I would have missed out on this opportunity. Will it come again? Possibly, but why put it off when the future is uncertain and life passes by so quickly? So much can happen in a month, even in a day.

The very fact that I can drive a car, use an iPad, and carry a laptop around means I have innumerable means to doing genealogy most anywhere; a skillset that comes with being a product of the technological generation. I used my mobile device to record a conversation and "scan" old photos for sharing online. I brought my computer to share my own digitized photos and typed stories she had never seen or heard. A one-hour visit soon turned into a "family reunion" as we shared stories and memories. 

The visit is permanently engraved in my heart. An eighty-something woman and a twenty-something girl share something in common: the love of our family. While my older-generation relatives are still around, I want to preserve their stories. I desire to learn more about their lives and those of people who have passed on. One way to do that is through technology, which is a gift in aiding the work of salvation as we learn to use it for good. 

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