A 110-Year-Old Lesson

In today's Austin American-Statesman (online) I read a story about the death of a local lady, Amanda Roberts Jones, who lived to be 110 years old http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/austin/entries/2008/12/19/after_a_historic_vote_amanda_j.html . Several thoughts came to mind as I read this brief, remarkable story. One is that she lived during three different centuries. It's mind-boggling to think that someone lived to see the part of the 1800s, all of the 1900s, and part of 2000s! The lead of the story is that she lived to cast a ballot for an African-American president. This daughter of slaves who personally experienced racial bigotry through most of her life actually did last month what was unthinkable just a few years ago. I wonder, however, what feelings went through her mind when she cast that ballot? What images and memories raced through her head? 

The most important question, however, is prompted by a blogger in the first note underneath the article. A Stephen Taylor wrote, "I hope her family and local historians interviewed her and took notes."  The question is, "Did they?" Part of me doesn't want to know the answer, for I fear the answer is "No". Answers to questions I raised above and to many questions that span her entire 110 years are precious heirlooms. Capturing them on video, as we do at LifeStories Alive http://www.lifestoriesalive.com/ , is a must.

Many of you (and most of your parents) don't think their stories are important enough to capture on video. That is my greatest frustration as well as your greatest opportunity. What if Mrs. Jones was convincing enough to her relatives that she was nothing special and, therefore, refused to be interviewed? What if your parents and grandparents are telling you the same thing?  Here's the main lesson learned: Don't wait for their objections. Capture and preserve their stories now!

We never know when we will leave this wonderful thing we call life. And if we can be selfless enough to be concerned about our own great-grandchildren, we will not take "No" for an answer when it comes to capturing the life stories of ourselves or our loved ones. 

Let's all think of Amanda Roberts Jones and say, "Thank you for the 110-year-old lesson you've taught us. May you (and your stories) rest in peace."