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Storytelling:  I'm Glad We Took The Time

It’s been nearly a year since I received a call from my friend Jim.  He said he didn’t have much time and wanted to know if he could see me soon.  A couple of days after his call we got together and Jim shared with me (on video) many of his life stories.  Little did I realize that he would be dead in only eight days.

Jim lived no ordinary life.  His long-time friend and associate Steve Aadland described him as well as anyone: Jim was an amazing individual, a dear friend and long-time mentor. He was a man of many contrasts: a great leader who was a true gentleman; sometimes a blunt critic with a cutting sarcasm; an intellectual with unquenchable curiosity for the perspective of genius; a competitor in all he did.  Jim loved to laugh and we loved to laugh with him.  Jim loved people.  His Irish humor and engaging way attracted people like a magnet--he had friends everywhere he went.

Most of us don’t live an extraordinary life as Jim did, but everyone has a story to tell.  It’s not uncommon to hear people lament about how they wish they had taken the time to record the stories of a favorite relative, friend, or neighbor.  When asked why they didn't, quite often they remark that they just didn't get around to doing it.  Fortunately Jim and I did – eight days before he died.  I’m glad we took the time.

If you’re interested, here’s one of Jim’s stories.

In 2001, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  Though it seemed like it would take a lot of work and time, they told the story of their marriage (on video) in a way that only people who have been together for a half century can.  In 2007, Dad suffered a severe stroke, but managed to survive three more years.  He died this past June.  Even though he’s gone, his story, his voice, his insufferable sense of humor, and his love for my mother live on.  I’m glad we took the time.

My parents’ story is called “It Ain’t All Onions and Radishes.”  If you want to see why, click here.

Over thirty years ago, I took a few pictures of the house in which my grandfather was born and raised as well as of the barn that he built with his own hands. Shortly thereafter, my friend, Alan, insisted that I get Gramp’s stories on tape.  Again, it sounded like a lot of work and time.  However, Alan was not going to be satisfied until I recorded Gramp’s story.  If Gramps were still alive today, he’d be 128 years old.  My grandson, Harper, will be seven in May.  Of course, he never met Gramps--but, he will.  I’m glad we took the time.

Here’s Gramp's story.

At one time, the technology needed to record these personal histories presented a barrier to capturing stories what would otherwise disappear into the vapor of lost memories.  However, in today’s world, where technology is at everyone’s fingertips, where nearly everyone carries a smart phone with audio and video recording capabilities, this is no longer an adequate excuse.  That leaves “no time” as the final obstacle.  I understand; I suffer from the same inexcusable reasoning.  However, as I now watch Jim, Dad, and Gramps tell their stories, I can only say, “I’m glad we took the time.”  How about you?