So what to give her for Christmas?
My family came up with the electronic photo frame. I researched portable frames and bought one. Others installed family photos –some dating back to 1916 — which was no small task. Mom marveled at the way the photos continued to flip, but it didn’t compare to the last gift.
My niece bought a DVD player. Fine, I thought, as Mom unwrapped it. She can’t really keep up with movies – the speech is usually too fast for her earing aids to follow – but I thought she should be able to enjoy musicals. But then my nephew produced a DVD, a “conversation” with Mom and Dad he filmed ten years ago in my parent’s living room. He and his wife asked questions, then let Mom and Dad reminisce. The topics ranged from Dad’s childhood years in Arizona to Mother’s in Minnesota and North Dakota. They talked about meeting each other, their marriage, trips they’d taken and their families, past and present. The conversation lasted about three hours.
Dad died about five years ago. He was 93 (I said I had great genes), and Mom misses him greatly. Their’s was a great love story and seventy-year marriage. She has missed him greatly. They were seldom apart during their marriage.
Mom had never seen the DVD. Neither had I. We played it, and she sat in her wheelchair with the first real smile I had seen in years. It was as if she was back there, sitting in her comfortable chair and Dad in his, chatting. She loved every second of it, and wanted to see it again. I imagine she will watch it a lot in the coming weeks and months.
It was a gift to me as well. He returned for a few hours. He and his comforting presence, his smile, his wit and his stories of his childhood and romance with my mom.
Something so simple. Something that cost nothing but a few hours of time. But it was priceless to her. It brought Dad back into her life and rekindled wonderful memories. My great nieces and nephews were equally as enraptured as they watched Dad talk about his experiences in Arizona in 1913, particularly when, at two, he played with a rattlesnake.
I wanted to mention it here because some of you might have aging parents you might like to “interview” on video. Or maybe you and your family would like to record yourself and pass on bits and pieces about family history and funny stores and adventures that might otherwise be forgotten.
Most of us here are history addicts, but in our busy lives we don’t often think that a century from now, our descendants will be as hungry to know about us as we are about our ancestors. What better gift can we give our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren than a piece of us and a glimpse of our particular time in history.
We prize our technology and can’t – at least I can’t –even imagine what a hundred years will bring. I remember the old black and white Philco television set that gave me Roy Rogers, and I wonder what miracles await our succeeding generations. It’s nice to think that they will also have a personal piece of the past.
To greet 2009, I’m passing on some terrific quotes for the new year. They all have great meaning to me, and I hope they do to you. Add some of your own.
“If You obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Katherine Hepburn
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
“A true friend stands by your side in the storm and reminds you that there are sweet and sunny days to come.” – Kathryn T. Shaw
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.” – Author Unknown
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” ” – Native American Saying.
“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” – Zen Saying
“Ah, how good it feels: the hand of an old friend.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow