I Will Remember You
“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan played in the background as photos of my dad’s life appeared on my sister’s kitchen television. Her three kids were gathered around.
A year or two after Dad passed away, I created a DVD that honored his life. The presentation looked like one you might see before a modern-day funeral. Only that wasn’t a thing back then. I made the DVD for one reason, really. I wanted future generations in my family to know a little about the man, even though they’d never meet him.
In my devotional book Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, I make this observation: Three generations from now, most of us will be a nameless face in a digital (presumably) scrapbook that nobody can identify. You know this to be true because you’ve gone through the photo albums of your own grandparents or great-grandparents and couldn’t place names with faces.
I go on to encourage the reader to focus on leaving a spiritual legacy.
Even so, there’s a small part of me that wants future generations in my family to know the people who came before them. Hence, the DVD.
My sister could never bring herself to watch it, saying it was just too hard. I got that. But she hung on to the DVD through several moves and decided that my visit to St. Louis last week was the time to watch it. So we did so together one night. The next night, she gathered her three children (ages 17, 11 and 9) to watch it. She knew me well enough to understand that I’d made the DVD for this very reason.
I’m not sure what I expected from them. They’ve heard stories about their grandpa and saw pictures scattered around the house, but that’s as far as it could go. As they watched photos scroll by that showed him interacting with the family, they began to ask questions.
“How old was he when he passed away?”
“Was he sick?”
When they didn’t ask questions, my sister and I explained the photos they were seeing.
“That’s taken in the old clubhouse,” she said.
“And there he is mowing the yard at your mom’s old house,” I said.
“Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this picture.”
“I Will Remember You” by McLachlan transitions to “I Will Remember You” by Amy Grant and the snapshots of Dad’s life continue to fade in and out. I included a few captions with tidbits of information. If I had it to do over, I’d include more information. In fact, I think I’ll do that at some point.
“Are you gonna cry, Mom?”
Tears felt appropriate.
Finally, “Oh How the Years Go By” by Amy Grant begins. A short video appears of Dad patting his belly after eating one of his mother’s cookies. She made the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I’ll fight you if you say otherwise. Well, I won’t fight you, but you’ll be wrong.
“Just think,” I said to the kids, “if it hadn’t been for Grandpa Jerry, you wouldn’t be here.”
“You wouldn’t either!”
The DVD closes with a video of Dad laughing while seated at his mom’s kitchen table – the same table so many of us had spent hours around, enjoying her cooking and laughing about everything and nothing.
My sister cried as the credits rolled. I have a feeling that her children won’t forget those tears. And maybe … just maybe, her kids will show the DVD to their kids someday and talk about the first time they saw it with old Uncle Lee and their mom way back in 2022. Hopefully, it’ll inspire them to create their own ways to share family stories with future generations. That would make me extremely happy. And I’m pretty sure Dad would approve too.
5/2/2022 01:56:24 pm
This is very touching, Lee.
5/19/2022 09:40:35 am
Thanks so much, Sheryl. I can only hope that my family stories resonate with my nieces and nephews as they grow up so they'll continue to pass them along to their kids.
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