I got a lesson today while sitting in a church pew waiting for a funeral to begin. The person being honored was an elderly neighbor who I had interviewed less than a year ago about things that happened when she was a girl. All at once a light came on. It came to me that her children and grandchildren might be interested in having a copy of the interview. Because I videotape interviews whenever I can, I thought I could easily make them a DVD of that interview—if I still had the tape. In the receiving line after the funeral, I asked the lady’s son and daughter if they would like a DVD of the interview. They were receptive to the idea.
Upon returning home, I found the tape and, in less than an hour, made a DVD while tending to other tasks much of the time the computer was churning away. After testing it on our DVD player and TV, it was ready to deliver. So, with little effort on my part, I made something the deceased’s family can have a movie of her as she was before her illness set in. This may be the only movie they have of her. I don’t know but doubt if many people think of taping their loved ones to have such remembrances of them after they’re gone. In this case, the family gets to see her as they would probably like to remember her, talking about things that happened in her youth, about her history, and about life as it was when she was a girl. Based on what has happened in my own family, I think that she likely talked about things that she never thought to tell her children and grandchildren and about which they never thought to ask.
The lesson in this for us writers is to realize that interviews we make might be of interest to the interviewee’s family for reasons very different from our own and that we should take care to preserve our interview tapes just in case.