I remember that day clearly.
We were riding down West Ave when Dayona hit record on her phone. All of my life, conversations with my father were hard for me: not because I didn’t like talking to him but because I never really knew what to say. I have always been his little boy and always wanted to say the right thing. I loved him that much. Sometimes, I would rather avoid conversation versus talking and saying the wrong thing. I avoided tense situations and just wanted to make him happy.
But now, this conversation was necessary.Unavoidable. We had driven across states to see him and Dayona and I both knew, even if my father didn’t want to admit it, that this would most likely be one of the last conversations we had with him.
There was so much I wanted to say. So much that I wanted to hear. And as we drove through the streets of my hometown, a town I rarely get to see anymore, I knew that it was time to really talk with my father.
So I did. As I drove, I asked him about his mother, her mother, and her father. I asked him about people we had long forgotten. I asked him about my own mother. I listened to him ramble and remember. It was as if he was reaching in the recesses of his mind and pulling out memories most precious. Dementia had begun to make his mind a field of muddy water but today, it was lucid and clear. As I asked questions and laughed at his jokes, he spoke more and more.
And when we got to where we were going, the conversation ended. No amazing epiphanies and no lights in the sky. Just conversation. And I was glad for it.
He died a month later. Cancer, Dementia and a bunch of other problems. My brother and I planned and executed his funeral and I eulogized him. And a few months after that, I received one of the greatest gifts I could ever imagine.
Over a year after his death, I often find myself lying in bed, headphones in, listening to my father’s voice. The cadence and structure of his vocabulary are not lost to me. The heart in the sound of his voice is still available to me, all because my wife had the foresight to hit a button on her phone. It took her mere seconds to do so and here I am, reaping the benefit of listening to a voice that could have been lost to me forever.
Whether we hit a button on a phone, write a book, shoot a video or make a scrapbook, recording our lives has immense value. For those that will grieve us, those acts of legacy-making are soul medicine. They are the restorers of memory and a hug when no arms are available.
As someone who works with, writes for, and honors the dying every day, I encourage life documentation in every way. It is a sacred thing; our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children can be comforted long after we are no longer there to do so. And as we can see from Dayona’s kind act, it’s not hard to do. Just push a button and pour out our hearts.
If you are interested in learning more about how to document your life, let us help you.
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