In 2010, my grandma Tolentino struggled with pneumonia resulting in a tracheotomy. At the time, my family didn’t know how serious her condition was, so we flew to California to be with her.
My grandma's deteriorating health impressed upon me the need to learn more about her life and to capture these stories for myself and for any family members unable to be with her at this time.
I ended up borrowing a friend’s camcorder and microphone and for two days, I discovered the amazing life that my grandma lived. She told me stories about when the Japanese invaded the Philippines during WWII; how she met my grandpa; how they took a boat from the Philippines to California after they married, and what it was liking raising her three boys.
I only recorded that one weekend because, honestly, life got in the way – I had my career, we lived in different states and grandma was pretty physically weak after her tracheotomy. I absolutely regret not taking the time to know her more and record her stories . . .my dad’s history. . . .my family’s history. My grandma died in 2014.
I know that the idea of recording loved ones' stories may seem sad, as if we are anticipating death, but I see it more about celebrating life. From all the interviews I've done, what I've seen is the excitement of loved ones remembering those childhood stories and events.
Many times, no one has asked them about their best neighborhood friend or what it was like during the Great Depression, etc. I think just showing an interest in a loved ones' life is special in and of itself. And the end product - having these stories on file - is a gift for generations to come.
Your family members are extraordinary people with extraordinary stories just waiting to be shared. Let us capture those stories..
B.A. Media Communications, Webster University, 2004
15 years audio/video experience with PBS, Fox Sports, ESPN,
Veterans Administration and other local stations