Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Lost a Client Today

My posts are usually brief but usually fairly thought out before I even begin to type them up but this one is an impulse composition. I just received a phone call from a woman who had hired me to interview her parents and other members of her family about a year ago. She envisioned an extensive project and due to her hard work [and mine], a 3-part saga about her family was created. It was completed in March and she and I were both very pleased with how it turned out. I was so touched with the interviews of her parents. They shared stories that illustrated not only their strengths but their weaknesses as well. I also interviewed her adult sons with the topics focusing again on stories of their grandparents. These accounts were told with humor and a bit of teasing but above all with a deep senses of love and fondness for them.

Her phone call was to tell me that her father, who had been ill for some time, had died peacefully earlier today. She was asking if I could make a tribute for the memorial service using a few selections from the interview which I told her I would be happy to do. This is not the first client I have lost and oftentimes I interview people who have terminal illnesses but that doesn't make it any easier when one of them dies. While there is always a sadness when one of them passes, I am always comforted by the thought that because of their interview, not only will their stories endure, but their laugh, gestures, and the twinkle in their eye will be able to be witnessed by their great great grandchildren.

I remember giving a presentation last spring to a group showing ways they could preserve family history as a do-it-yourself project. I gave resources and examples in many ways--not just video. But I am partial and think video is such a powerful medium. This was confirmed at the end of my talk when a woman raised her hand and made a comment urging the group to have a video created. It turned out that her husband had passed away the year before and she had no record of his voice. So when I receive calls such as the one I received today, in spite of the sad thoughts, I can't help but think that at least the families I work with don't have that sorrow.

--Bridget Poizner

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