PRT240 – The Importance of Memory Keeping

This week we’re talking about how important memory keeping is…

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  • AshleyM

    Noell, first thank you. Thank you for talking about this so soon after everything and for providing a different view of loss and the celebration of life.

    I had to pause the episode to come here and say thank you for that, but also, thank you for planting this in my brain. My Grandfather is slowly losing his memories and I fear we will be putting together a video of our own. I made a birthday video for him a few years ago with all the pictures I had of our family, but as you said in the episode- some pictures just aren’t there. I am going home to Texas in a few weeks and I am going to challenge my aunts to gather photographs of them with him and their kids with him so they have them and we have them. I think I may also make a photobook for him with our names and birth dates and pictures so as he loses memories of us, he can look through it and see that he had a very wonderful life full of family who loved him.

    Again, thank you for taking your experience and helping others with it.

  • Denise Anderson

    Wow Noell, what a powerful show. You have really given us tools for memory keeping. I don’t think I could have done what you did so soon after. When my dad died I was a basket case for some time. I do know what you mean about hearing his recorded voice. I do have that memory and it gives me great comfort. My dad’s hobby was jazz and when he got a new album (once cassette tape came out), he would record the album then listen to the tape and keep the album put away. He would record the musicians who played on the album so I get to hear his voice that way. (I know the young folks probably won’t even know what cassettes are). My family is getting together in Cancun for vacation this summer and the shots that I take will be very different than the usual group shots. Thank you for being so candid. I have your family in my prayers ever since this happened. Blessings to you!

  • fancyscrapper

    Hi Guys! I can only echo others with my thanks for your willingness to share so early in this tragic event. I have death issues, and hate funerals as the losses seem to outweigh anything else at the time. It is so helpful to hear things like you and Izzy share about your losses and funerals that were more than just a time of mourning. It may help me change perspective a little and find more joy in the memories when the time comes for me to face the loss of a parent.

    Izzy, my Mom was a concert pianist too. I love to hear old recordings since her hands have aged and she has difficulty now.

    Noell, my Dad is also very musical, and we have countless recordings he made on reel to reel. These will doubtless become more dear as time goes on. My Dad even has converted some of the old recordings into digital formats. He used to interview me and my little brother, and tell stories giving each of us a part to play. He played the part of the narrator, leading us with questions. We did the Three Little Pigs, and also Goldilocks. They are hilarious to hear now. Our tiny childish voices are precious.

    I guess I came from a line of memory keepers. My Dad’s Dad was a secretary at the front in WWII, and my Dad has held positions on various boards where he was the one to record and reproduce important notes from the meetings. Just comes naturally. Maybe that’s why he thought to pull out that old tape recorder with a microphone, and tell stories with his 3yodd and 5yods.

    Anyway thanks for the great ideas on “Photo Audits” and such. Just pulling it all together would be a task that could be better done over time. I’ve been praying for you guys since I heard, and those prayers continue. Thanks again for all you do for this community.

  • Kate

    Thank you for talking about this Noell. I lost my mother almost five years ago and there are so many memories I don’t have. I wish that there was video of her telling her stories. I had the opportunity to take a few minutes of video of my father telling a story of his early years working. Within weeks of that video, he was in the hospital and I thought we might lose him. He recovered, and I need to really make an effort to capture him on video (he is just so very grouchy, not sure I want to….). Wish I had done it all so much earlier!!!! More pictures too!

  • Terry

    Thank you Noell and Izzy for giving us this great PRT episode and sharing your personal moments surrounding your dad’s passing. I am so impressed with your professionalism and I think this was one of my favourite episodes because we got to listen to and hear both of you in a more intimate way. The roundtables are wonderful and informative and lively and I wait anxiously each week for the next one but this episode was like listening to your favourite musician do an acoustic set. It was straightforward, direct, uncluttered and real. It was also a great way to come back to the table and put everything in perspective and allow the transition back to the “normal” episodes. I have so much more I could say but I’ll close this with a huge thank you for your warmth and kindness and all your hard work – you have gained a lifetime member of paperclipping for as long as you two are willing to do it!

  • Tina Campbell

    Noell, thank you for providing such a warm and thoughtful video this week, I’m amazed at what you all found of your fathers ans was so blessed to have. I agree that as we are the photo-takers and the memory keepers that we are not always in the pictures, I have lucked out with a husband that seems to know when t get his phone camera out and take a picture of me so that I’m usually documented at events and that is because he saw that I wasn’t n many pictures. So yes we need those types of pictures. Thank you for an amazing show and I will be checking to see what we do have pictures of and need to get yet. You celebrated his life so well through this show it’s just amazing to hear you talk about him and the fondness in your voice. Thank you :) and bless you

  • UnapologeticallyTracey

    Only you guys could come right off of such a tragic event and process your thoughts and feelings in a way from which we can all benefit. Such a lovely gift to your listeners to share your journey through this loss and offer advice about memory keeping as a result. Something that I took from this show is an important reminder of how important it is to take photos and video of all of our loved ones — friends, extended family, etc. — rather than just our children and immediate family or ourselves.

    I feel like this episode together with the one before it will be the very first place I turn for comfort the next time I experience a loss or am feeling grief. Thanks for all that you do!

  • Janelle

    What an amazing, Unplugged episode! I really enjoyed it. You guys nailed it. Thank you so much for sharing!! I identified so closely, I was in tears. My beloved dad died unexpectedly in a car accident 5 years ago in February. He was also a hunter, the family photographer, and the outgoing joker… friendly, and so full of life. So many of the things you mentioned in the episode were exactly what brought me comfort then, and now: browsing photos with relatives, “every day” personality photos, photos of the two of us together, stories from any random Joe who was willing to share.

    When you mentioned audio files, one of the things that I immediately remembered as a comfort soon after my dad passed away, was voicemail. I didnt have any of his messages saved on my phone, but fortunately, his good friend did. He was somehow able to email it to me, and I cried/laughed as soon as I heard it. It was just a quick voicemail about coordinating their next bike ride, but it said SO much about him! I now save lots of the messages I receive using Audacity (mentioned in a very old episode of PRT).

    Actually, another thing that brought me comfort was PRT. The show started just a month before my dad died, so every week after he passed, I had your light-hearted chats to look forward to and inspire me to record the important stuff. What an amazing gift you’ve given to your audience. Thank you for all the inspiration, Noell and Izzy!

  • AmySo

    Hugs Noelle. You were brave to talk out loud so soon after his death. That’s hard!
    When my dad died, I spent a long time going through pictures, too. I thought I had been careful about getting photos of him (as he was also the photographer), but much to my dismay I discovered I only have ONE of him and me together. ONE!!! It is still upsetting to me.
    Fast forward to about a year later. My mother-in-law had to have a mastectomy. It made me think…I need to do a photo shoot of her and Kendell (my husband). I decided I’d do it just as soon as she was recuperated and feeling pretty again. Then, a month after her surgery, she had an entirely unexpected heart attack and was gone.
    So I’m just echoing what Noelle said: take the pictures NOW!!! And no matter how you feel about yourself right now, don’t wait until you feel prettier or skinnier or whatever. Just take them now, because you won’t care how you look in the picture once that person is gone. You’ll just be glad you have the photos!

  • NoelleW

    Noell, that was a really touching and thought provoking episode. I have been wanting to collect the memories of various older family members for some time, but don’t know what questions to ask. I want more than the typical genealogical questions. Do you have suggestions on where to find question inspiration? Or maybe that could be a future video or rountable epusode? Back in 8th grade, I had to do some sort of project where I interviewed my grandma about her childhood. I don’t remember what I asked, though!

  • Tammy Shupard Brandt

    Great show. I really appreciate that you took the time to share all of this in this difficult time for your family. So much of this struck me, and I’m probably not going to remember everything I wanted to say, but I did want to say that last month my grandfather (almost 91) was having some cognitive difficulties, and there was some suspicion of Alzheimer’s, and it was really scary for me. It turned out to be a TIA (minor stroke), which is not uncommon, and he is recovering nicely, which is a huge relief.
    Last year I really started to put together family history albums in earnest, and my grandparents passed along a giant crate of photos that they unearthed. I made tons of progress last year at a craft weekend retreat, and created a framework with a title page for each family member, showing a few pictures of them at different ages, and a summary of major life events. Then behind that, I put their summary page from, and I used pocket pages to store all of the photos as I scanned and printed them. Some I will do full layouts on, and some will just live in the pockets.
    I had a few health things come up over the summer/fall, and hadn’t worked on these (or any scrapbooking) since, until the scare with my grandfather. I was suddenly overcome with the need to finish the scanning and transfer all of my notes from interviews into something tangible that I can share with other family members and pass along to my kids later. So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been scanning and tagging and captioning like a madwoman, and I had the idea to do a mini-album for each of them for their birthdays (my grandmother just turned 92 in Feb.). They won’t be done until my grandfather’s birthday in April, because I thought to have all of the extended family contribute something they learned/things they loved/remembered, etc.
    Then I thought that while I am interviewing them (often with my 4 year-old and 2 year-old little boys in the room), I often can’t get it all down fast enough in my notebook, so I thought I should record them, and be able to play it back later and transcribe any stories for my family album pages that way, and wouldn’t it be nice to have their voices recorded. (Had this thought last week.) My Mom called yesterday to say that she had some recordings of her grandfather’s stories of growing up in Wales, which he recorded in 1976, just before he passed away. I’ve never known about these, by my uncle had them digitized, so she is going to bring them on Friday. Then today, I listened to your podcast. It spoke to so many things for me right now, and it is so important.
    I am not a video person, and often forget to take snippets even with my phone when my little ones are doing something interesting. My sister will regularly point out that this is a video moment. I think Izzy is right about the importance of not just scrapbooking for memory keeping, but also getting video and audio. I do think you should do a class about memory keeping via video. I am going to try to go and video my grandparents this weekend, if my mom will stay with the boys.
    I also wanted to say that I got a bit choked up when you said how important it is that we are doing this work, and how glad you were that you guys do this work.
    I am going to make a photo audit list (which should be easier to check now that I have spent weeks tagging things) for all of the things that you suggested.
    Thank you both so much for your perspective at this time!

  • Marie-Pierre

    Wow! What an amazing and powerful episode!! Noell you are so brave and you handled the show like no one could ever do!
    Thanks for all the strategies and tips. I’ll go back and listen again and I’ll be writing down the list of photos to take. We mainly take pictures of our extended family and the lighting is not always great and I will really have to get in it and take more pictures of my parents every time I see them (which is not very often).
    Also, you guys reminded me that we have exactly that kind of video with my grand-parents where the grand-kids (me included) asked our grand-parents questions such as how they met. I’ll have to get on that too and find that tape! And have it transferred from a tape to a dvd.
    And also it reminds me that I personnaly take way too less videos of my children. It is so priceless when we go a couple of years back to look for photos and we find a video of our 2 years old dancing and signing like no one would be watching in the living room. I should film way more. I’ll have to make it an habit!
    One last thought, coming back to my forever guilt of “why am I spending time and energy into paper and placing cute products on a page and in an album?” Well, you just convinced me that it really matters and it really is a gift, so I’ll continue to put my focus and time and energy on our photos and stories. Maybe I’ll even try to scrapbook faster!!

    Thank you so so so very much for today’s episode Nowll and Izzy. To me this one was THE BEST one ever. Big hugs to both of you. Marie xox

  • Corrie Nellesen Boivin

    Thanks Noell and Izzy for putting this thought in my head… Do you have a list of questions the kids asked as they were interviewing your parents on video? Or at least some links of good sites that might have them? Thanks,

  • Janet

    Cyndi’s List is a comprehensive website for primarily genealogists, but it has the topic Storytelling and Folklore, with a subtopic Oral History and Interviews is an art to getting people to answer questions, a balance between targeting topics to narrow possibilities (lots of possibilities in a long life), but also to allowing folks time to start remembering because the questions start helping them remember. What worked for me with my Dad was asking questions I wanted answers to, like who the heck was Aunt Helga? So there has to be a balance between what you know you want to know, and what they want to tell you. Richly rewarding. The 2 1/2 audio CD’s of my Dad a few months before he died are absolutely beyond price.

  • Tori Bissell

    Thank you so much for sharing! It means so much to me. It was honestly such a great reminder to focus on the every day stories and the everyday moments.

    I love the idea of a photo audit. I’m going to go look at my photos and make sure that all the people I care about so deeply are represented. From my quick look, it looks like I have a lot of candid photos (since these are the photos I love taking) but I don’t have a lot of posed, smiling photos. What a good reminder to me that I need both. I need those candid silly ones but I love the smiling hugging posed ones as well.

  • Tori Bissell

    I was thinking about what you were saying about recording people and it made me think about my sister. My sister is in Africa. I haven’t seen her in a year. I also won’t get to see her for another year and a half. She’s a missionary there and can’t come home that whole time. We also don’t get to talk often because she’s working with a remote, nomad tribe in the Kenyan desert. She has no electricity, running water or internet connection. I miss her like crazy. A couple months before she left we were in the car with the music blaring and she was singing along. She’s an amazing singer and often just sings. So I secretly pulled out my cell phone and recorded her singing. I love that recording. It is so precious to me and whenever I miss her I listen to it. I know she hasn’t passed but hearing you talk about the recording of your dad reminded me of this precious recording I have of my sister. Those recordings can mean so much to us even when people are alive. This great reminder has showed me how important it is to record people whenever we get a chance. And if that’s photos, or audio or video it can have such an incredible impact on our lives. I love this. I love that I get the opportunity to be a memory keeper. I love that I have this incredible gift I can be a part of and share with others. Just another reminder of how awesome this hobby is.

  • Rosa Neno

    Thank you for this topic, very appropriate for me right now. We buried my dad two days ago, and I miss him terribly……I am however glad I have hundreds of pictures that I have taken of him and my mom over the years. They will be a comfort to me.

  • ARC

    My husband has been doing this lately too – he often takes my DSLR from me so he can get some shots of me and the kids. So glad to have them! And sometimes he really surprises me with how he frames the shot – he’s not interested in photography but definitely has some moments of inspiration!

  • ARC

    Wow, thank you for this powerful episode – it’s really gotten me thinking about how I want to approach this hobby a little differently. My parents are older and while we try to get formal family photos every year or so with them and my daughters, we don’t have a ton of candids and NO video at all.
    That needs to change, for sure. I used to dismiss video as something unnecessary (we only got a wedding video because my parents wanted one!) but now I see how it’s really kind of a “back pocket” gift to yourself when you might really need some comfort. Thank you guys for opening up my eyes to this.
    P.S. I was surprised that Izzy mentioned me during the show (and holy crap Noell, no one ever pronounces my name correctly so mad props to you!) Anyway, today’s the day – I am going to figure out my “small story” and get that thing on video this afternoon. Thanks again. –Anandi

  • Melissa Rich

    I want to thank you. My mom passed away two years ago, at pretty young age. My mom was the one person, I loved more than life. Its makes me tear up just think she died of a massive heart attack. My step father a clip of her complaining or fussing over something. It made tears well up even now just remember the raw emotions of hearing her voice after she was gone. I have went every where to download her photos scanned them in my phone. This a great idea for people to do. I’m going to talk to my husband about setting this up for his grandparents.

  • teddi

    that was one of my favorite episodes! it was very touching hearing you & izzy speak together about something so personal. you both gave me some things to think about as i continue creating & documenting memories. i got all choked when you spoke of what we do as memory keepers being gifts for others & ourselves. i agree. :)

  • Libby Gordon

    I am so sorry for your loss Noell. I listened to the podcast this morning and felt a strong connection to what you and Izzy were discussing. My own sweet daddy passed away in December after a sudden and fierce battle with lung cancer at the age of 84. His funeral was five days before Christmas and was filled with so many people from so many parts of my parents’ lives. Pictures and stories were also a huge part of his funeral. I had made an album for my parents’ 50th anniversary over 14 years ago and my mother proudly took it to the church and had it in the reception hall for everyone to see after the service, my brother also put together a power point of all of our pictures we had of him that we played during the reception . My three siblings and I were all given a flash drive of the power point to keep and it is precious to me. I am so glad that you did this episode because although all of us know that ourselves and our loved ones won’t be here forever, we don’t think about the importance of these pictures and stories (and how amazing that you have hose interviews filmed! What a great idea!) of these people until they’re gone. The ideas yiu gave of what kinds of pictures to have is wonderful.
    Thank you again for a wonderful, heartfelt episode. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

  • sproutbrux

    Noell, thank you for this. My dad died exactly a year ago this week and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to really listen to this episode. But when I heard that your dad was a Parkinsons sufferer but had died suddenly of other causes – just like my dad! – I knew I had to keep listening.
    I was feeling overwhelmed with the pile of old family photos that I still haven’t scanned in or sorted out – but your show has really encouraged me to keep going and to secure those prompts to memories that we do have, and to write down all those stories that only I know, so that my kids and nephew can look back and understand what kind of people their grandparents were.
    Thanks for your honesty and emotional courage – and for inspiring the rest of us.

  • Leora

    Thank you for sharing this with us. My heart is with you and your family!

  • karen

    THanks fpr this lovely show.

  • cindi

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Stacy Miller Arndt

    Thank you for a wonderful episode. My parents are in their 70s. I want to always be able to hear their voices. I plan on shooting some videos and ask some questions. Thank you for always make me stretch my memory keeping.

  • Teal Myre

    Noell & Izzy,
    Thank you so much for this episode! It is a great message and reminder to get some of these memories documented before I face the loss of a loved one. I also want to say how much I enjoyed the format of the show. Of course I love the different guests every week, but I also really liked just the two of you on one very specific topic. Izzy, you are always a highlight of the show for me, your humor, explanations, and all you have to offer bring something to the show that other podcasts don’t have. But you aren’t just the token goofy guy, you really offer an interesting perspective to nearly every show. I do not consider myself super crafty, but want to document our lives and your take on things is always one I identify with.
    Thanks to you both!

  • clippergirl

    Thank you to both Izzy and you for this discussion. I too, recently lost my Father in February. He had been sick for some time, but the last few months, and weeks of his life, it was especially hard to see him deteriorate so fast. You are both right in that we should make the time and effort in capturing ourselves/those that we love in both photos and videos/audio. I am grateful that we/I made it a point to document as much as we can, even the smallest of moments. I now appreciate those the most, us, just doing the simplest of things. Memory keeping is more then just playing with pretty embellishments and paper, it’s documenting our life and making it visible.
    I am truly sorry for your loss, big hugs!

  • D Israel

    Everyone else has already said it, but thank you for sharing this especially so soon. I have had multiple family member die in the past few years and have lost many stories with them. I love memories, but am a poor memory keeper; I am trying to change that, but it’s hard as it doesn’t come naturally for me. I hope I can get the hang of it for my kids to have. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Natalie (QSOgirl)

    Noell (and Izzy), this episode was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us all in such an intimate way. I can’t stop thinking about the points you made, and you have made me realize again the importance of my photographs, and the importance of taking more. Thank you for the reminder to get the “pairs” photographs, as well. I fully intend to listen to this episode again. It was so thought-provoking.
    I was wondering whether you and Izzy would consider sharing the interview questions that your children asked your parents for the “doctumentary-style” footage you videoed. Thank you.

  • I’ll have to ask Izzy if he remembers the specifics without listening to it again. I think we just spontaneously asked them questions about their past like… What kinds of things did you like to do as a kid? What are some of your earliest childhood memories, etc.

  • Dale Rose Stream, scrapstreams

    Noell, I was deeply moved by your loving recollections of your father, his impact on the lives of others, and your poignant declaration of the gift we give others as well as ourselves through memory keeping. I know that I could not have made such a tribute to my own father merely two weeks after losing him. You should be proud of the impact that YOU are making upon everyone who listens to your story here. I was in tears through the majority of this episode, not just for you and your family, but for myself, constantly relating your comments to my own family’s losses through the years. After losing one of my maternal aunts just a couple of days after listening to this episode, I immediately posted the url on the family fb page that I created a few years ago, asking all my cousins there to listen to your story, so well expressed and shared. THANK YOU for this episode.

  • Wow, thank you. I’m glad it meant that much to you. I had such strong feelings about it, I knew I had to record that episode as soon as possible. I’m sorry about your loss. I can’t express how much it helped me to have my dad’s nieces reaching out to me, sharing their memories and offering support to me and my family. I’m sure your aunt’s family is feeling similar love and support from you.

  • Marie-Pierre Capistran

    Hi again Noell, this episode touched me so much I’ve been thinking about everything you said and while blogging about my Project Life album today, I surprised myself focussing on the kind of photos I had taken this month instead of on the way I scrapbooked my pictures, like I usually do. :) If you want to take a peek, it’s here: I hope you are doing a little bit better. Can’t wait to have you back (but of course, I respect all the time you need!!!!) hugs, Marie

  • Terri Cannell

    You have such great insight and are so thoughtful. It says a lot about your character and wisdom that you and Izzy can be so giving in your time of need.

  • I’m sorry about your Dad. It’s interesting — on the one hand, you know that your time with your Parkinson’s suffering dad is going to get cut short, or at least the quality of it b/c it gets harder for them to communicate and do things. So you’re trying to emotionally prepare yourself for that. But you also expected to have more time than you did when they die suddenly of something else.

    I’m so glad we made a conscious effort to visit my parents more, to take more pictures and capture video with them.

  • This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hi Noell! I meant to comment on this episode when it first came out but I think it was hard to find the words. 11 and 4 years out from very personal losses I still find it hard to scrapbook about my brother and Mom. Hearing you speak about your Dad was very poignant for me. Even with a difficult subject you still had so many great ideas on how to really embrace the now and to be mindful of how we’re using memory keeping to create a lasting record of our immediate and extended family members. I really like the idea of remembering to take pictures with family members one on one. I really need to do that with both myself and my girls with my grandmothers who are getting up there in age. Thank you so much for your candor. I’ve linked to this episode in my most recent blog post about the Reasons Why I Love Being a Memory Keeper

  • Oh Noell and Izzy, I just heard this and my heart goes out to you and your family. Sending you love (though I wish I could have sent my
    love and support even earlier).

    My father passed away in December 2015 (he and I were sharing stories and he had a stroke while we were talking)
    and I recognize so much of how we felt in the days/weeks after this happen in your voices. I am so sorry you all went/are going through
    this. It can be so painful…and yet, our memories are such a big deal when it comes to getting through.

    We put together a huge slide show and shared stories, too. And, as you’ve said, it was so important and amazing to celebrate his life
    in this way.

    Sending you hugs,

  • Liz, that must have been terrifying when he had his stroke! Thank you for sharing your own experience with your dad’s passing. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you and your family are doing well.