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DAVID GREER: Lunch with grandma

The next time you're with your great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, pull out that smart phone and start asking questions about their childhood experiences and their happiest memories and record their responses. Then figure out how to save those recordings. With today's technology, it's never been easier.
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By David Greer
Kentucky Press News Service/Original Story URL


I just finished watching a cute Internet video of a Louisville-area police officer who stopped traffic on a busy Hurstbourne Parkway the other day to help a mama duck and her ducklings cross safely to the other side.

The video was shot by a motorist who just happened to be stopped in traffic and had a good view of the whole incident and captured it on her smart phone. The video was uploaded to the Internet, went viral and the rest is history. But it got me thinking about how I could have used such technology 25 years ago when I wanted to record on video some conversations I had with my late grandmother.



There were no smart phones with built-in video cameras at the time but there were big, bulky and expensive camcorders. But I was too cheap to buy one and didn't know where to rent one. I kept putting off figuring out how to record my sessions with my grandma and then it was too late -- a fact that's troubled me ever since.

My grandma was in her 80s. She lived alone in the 100-year-old-plus farmhouse where she lived for 60 years. She'd have it no other way. I knew she was lonely so since I was the only family member living locally, I decided she and I would have lunch together weekly.

I bought lunch at local restaurants each Tuesday, took it to her home and we'd dine at her kitchen table on my lunch hour. We talked about all kinds of things. Some topics were fun. Some weren't. She confessed she missed her brothers and sisters. She was the lone survivor of her family. She missed her husband and my father. Both had died too young. No, she didn't fear death -- even kind of looked forward to it, she told me. I was shocked and didn't know what to say. She laughed at the writer who suddenly was at a loss for words, she told me.

Other conversations were on lighter topics. She had been a young girl during the early years of the 20th century. It was a time of great innovation and change in America.

One Tuesday, she vividly recalled seeing and hearing her first airplane fly over her rural home. It was magical, she said, wondering why the thing didn't fall out of the sky.

She still remembered her father and his brother hopping on a train and traveling to Cincinnati to take delivery of her family's first automobile. It took her father and uncle three days to drive the car back to Nelson County where they lived, The return trip was slow because the roads were so poor, she explained.

And she still laughed about her father and uncle getting telephones installed in their homes. Her dad loved anything new and glamorous. Since they lived in a small community east of Bardstown, they had to wait a while before telephone installation became available in their area. But when it was, her father and uncle were among the first to sign up for it.

I loved how grandma laughed when she recalled the two men using their new telephones.

"They only lived 2 miles apart," she said, "but they talked and gossiped on that thing for hours every night just like two old women."

Gosh, I wish I had a video of her telling me that story. To this day, I don't know if any of my cousins or my sister ever heard this or any of her other stories from her childhood. It's kind of strange to think of your own grandmother as having once been a child herself. My own children remember their great-grandma but just barely. They were young when she passed away. I have fond memories of our lunchtime conversations but how I wish I could have shared them with others in the way in which only a video recording can share a common experience. Future family members will have never seen or heard her the way I did. It's a shame.

The next time you're with your great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, pull out that smart phone and start asking questions about their childhood experiences and their happiest memories and record their responses. Then figure out how to save those recordings. With today's technology, it's never been easier.

Don't repeat the mistake of doing nothing. Help future generations of your family see and hear their family members from past generations

In the end, that's all we have.


This story was posted on 2018-04-26 03:23:45
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