Don’t Lose The Story To The Pen

Do you find that when you spend time with your parents, or grandparents, they begin to tell stories of their life? You might be sitting together over a cup of hot coffee and they suddenly remember about the time they met their spouse? Maybe grandma starts telling the story of how grandpa made jokes every time they went out? Or how he was such a gentleman and always opened the car doors – which he still does all these years later. Maybe she tells the story to your kids of what it was like when you were born. Kids love to hear these stories! They eat them up!

You see, almost 12 years ago, my father passed away. At that time, I was given one of those books where you can write these stories down. As my dad was sick, he felt the need to share those stories with us everyday, knowing that they would otherwise be lost forever. I wrote down those stories as fast as I could every day, sitting next to him in his hospice room. I asked him questions, scouring that book to choose the perfect ones!

As I look back on that book today, there are two problems. One, I can barely read my chicken scratch – I don’t have great handwriting to begin with – but trying to write everything down so quickly made it even harder to read! But I also missed so much. I couldn’t possibly write down everything he said so I just tried to capture the big nuggets. The big takeaways. The big ideas. But that’s not enough. I have unfinished sentences, partial stories, and I literally wrote the words “ha ha” to show that he was making a joke since that doesn’t come across in writing. I find myself wishing I would have taken more time to fully write the answers, but if I would have done that… it would have been a trade off for the number of stories I got to hear. How could I possibly make that decision! So what I’m left with is a book full of half sentences, partial stories and wonder about so many parts of his life. I have lost him, to the pen.

Ok, so we’ve got part of the story… that’s a start, right. Here’s the other thing though… our conversations often took a turn. One conversation merged into a new topic, one that was not in front of me on the pages. That’s where the good stuff comes out! The life’s lessons, his big ideas, the times he got in trouble or what he learned. I couldn’t find a place in the book to write those answers down without flipping through and searching… being a distraction to his words. I got to hear him talk about the real stuff is his life, but I did not capture them to share again. They too, were lost to the pen.

At that time, I carried a Blackberry phone. Video was not yet a thing. Recording was not yet popular and the cameras that were in those early phones were poor quality at best! Things are different today. Photos are taken everyday in huge amounts. Have you taken one yet today? I bet you will!

We have the ability – not just the ability – we have the extremely easy ability today to do a better job than I did back then. We all carry around these super high quality cameras and camcorders in our pockets and it is SO easy to record everyday life! I can tell you for myself, so many of my videos are not important. It’s because it’s too easy to just click record – but when the moments matter – that’s when we need to click the record button.

If only I had thought of that when I had the chance.

If only.