Capture elderly memories

One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t ask my father to record his life before he died.

Unfortunately, aged 80, dementia began its slow, destructive assault on his mind and body and he deteriorated for almost seven years before he died. By then, it was too late to ask him to tell me about his life and I should have tried to get him to talk about it a long time before. So why didn’t I? Maybe it was the fear of pointing out his own mortality. Is it right to ask your parent to record their life whilst they are still fit and well? I should have overcome my scruples. My father died when my children were seven and five and certainly my younger one has no memories of him at all. My nephews were even younger. Yet he could have told them so much. Born of an immigrant family in the middle of the first world war, my father slept on a factory floor as a child. Bright and very hardworking, he made it grammar school and then graduated in the 1930’s in Pharmacy from Manchester University. Realising that he was never going to make money from grinding powders with pestle and mortar,however, he set up and ran a very successful nationwide clothing chain with his brothers. He travelled by air to Hong Kong twice a year in the 1960s, when it took between 24-36 hours each way. Aside from being a shrewd businessman, he was quite a ladies man, before marrying late at  the age of 45, when he finally settled down. A devoted father and husband, he had so many stories to tell and I wish I’d asked him to tell them. More than anything, I wish he could see my boys now and I wish they could see him, or hear him talking as I used to do. So I would urge you to record your parents on your camcorder or phone, ask them to chat on a dictaphone, or ask someone else to interview them and make a film, or record them. Then you will always have them with you and you can share them with future generations. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You’ll always regret it.

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