But we’re factories that work more on whim than process. We’re undisciplined when it comes to preserving and sharing our memories and stories.
That thought came to me as I toured a photo digitization facility known as the “Memory Factory.” The plant, now part of YesVideo, tracks customer media a lot better than my brain keeps up with the episodes of my past.
As the tour progressed, I watched the care with which old 8 mm films, VHS tapes, slides and photos were treated. It struck me that we descendants and parents ought to be doing to preserve the output of human memory factories. Especially those memory factories of loved ones that don’t have the precision of recall that their owners would like.
Handling All Memories with Care
We know that every person’s memories matter, but often, it takes the frailty of a loved one for us to feel some urgency about preserving their memories and stories. We wait until we see the inexorability of time’s march forward, before deciding to “write some of this down.”
It’s sad that we need that kind of “kick” to move us to preserve and share someone’s stories and memories. Why we don’t take time to perpetuate our own.
Perhaps we should be more like the mechanized memory factory.
Digitization plants don’t rank memories as it processes old media formats. They know each one matters. Whether it’s a four-year old’s piano recital, a wedding, or the family dog, each customer expects to be able to relive those moments.
We can do the same. Whether it’s the story we’ve heard a thousand times about how grandpa had to pick turnips for 5¢ an hour, a new story of how he met the love of his life, or the harrowing battles he witnessed and lived through, we can preserve loved ones’ stories.
Making Sure Factory Output is Shared
The sharing piece of the puzzle is often the one that falls under the table.
I used to work with a company whose reps were called “legacy makers.”
However, the true legacy makers are those who share their memories or tell their family member’s stories. The ones that, as they show a picture of a child in front of a 70’s era motel, explain why they were there. Perhaps it’s the story of the family’s immigration to the USA. Perhaps, it’s a last vacation with a family member who died shortly afterwards.
The photo is itself is a treasure; the accompanying story a legacy.
The same goes for those of us who are writing down our family stories. We can preserve stories with our research, photos, documents and writing. But we also need to plant the seeds that will lead to a harvest of narratives. We have to share the stories; start conversations.
Are you a legacy maker? What are you doing with the memory factories in your family? Preserving the episodes of their past? Writing down stories? Sharing?
Post updated October 9, 2019
Graphic: Compiled using images placed in the public domain by user Geralt at Pixabay.com and author’s images.
Motel family image used with permission, © Sharleen Reyes