Preserving My Family’s Legacy

I never knew either of my grandfathers.

By the time I was born, one had already passed away and the other died not long after, so I was never able to experience grandpa things like sitting on their laps, or laughing at their jokes, or hearing them talk about what life was like when they were growing up. My kids, on the other hand, are very fortunate to have both sets of grandparents whom they visit with on weekends and can hear cheering in the crowd at their sporting events. As much as I appreciate them knowing their grandpas, I know they aren’t taking in all the wisdom they could be, and my biggest fear is that the stories they’ve heard and memories they’ve made will eventually fade away.

IMG_9855Because of my concerns, I was happy when San Diego-based videographer Jeff Underwood contacted me to ask if I would review his new book. Until now, his company Forever Legacy Video has focused solely on creating videos for southern California residents which capture stories, advice, and wisdom on film to bridge the gap between young and old. I checked out his work on his site and was quickly brought to tears with the many heartfelt tales of love and family he’s managed to bring out. Jeff explained that he wants to allow families nationwide to appreciate the joy of preserving their legacy, so he wrote his process down in an easy-to-follow book. His book will be released on Mother’s Day for just $12.95 on Amazon and for .99 on Kindle eBook, making it very affordable for anyone.

“There are some companies that charge $10,000+ to sit down with your loved ones for you,” said Jeff. “I’ve always thought it was a shame that the only option for such an important project had to be so expensive, and that by outsourcing the interview, the family is missing out on the experience of sitting down with the loved one themselves.”

In the Forever Legacy Book, Jeff provides tips for conducting a face-to-face interview with a family member.  He offers intriguing questions to open up discussions, such as “Can you describe your childhood home?,” “What advice would you give to your younger self?,” and “Who was your first love?” On each question page there are blank lines to fill in answers during the interview, and on the opposite page, there is a spot to put a corresponding photo memory.

After the last interview section, Jeff walks readers through options for sharing the information documented in the book. One is to make a digital copy of the book using software he suggests, and another is to create a DIY legacy video.

Using the Forever Legacy Book in an Interview

Even though I write for a living and have interviewed dozens of people, I never considered interviewing my own father about his life. He has told me plenty of stories through the years, but after reading through the book, I decided I wanted my kids to hear them first-hand in an uninterrupted setting.

We all sat in my parents’ living room and as my oldest used his phone to record video, I asked my dad questions from the book and jotted down notes as he answered. Some of his responses were things we had heard before such as how he met my mother, but some of them actually surprised us and even spurred memories my dad had forgotten. For example, when my middle son said, “PaPa, I didn’t know you had chickens,” my dad’s eyes lit up and he said, “Yeah, and I forgot, I had a pigeon named Willie that walked us to the bus stop every morning! He had a broken leg because he tried to get in the car with us one time, so he walked with a limp.” The kids all cracked up at that!

IMG_9815After the interview, my dad got out a scrapbook of photos from his childhood, along with articles from his many years of playing baseball. My boys have always loved to hear about him playing, but it was neat for them to see him mentioned in the newspaper back when he was their age. I think they really enjoyed the whole process, and I loved knowing they were soaking it all in.

Creating a Legacy Video

I wanted to merge the photos and interview clips just like I’d seen on Forever Legacy Video’s website, so I downloaded the iMovie app on my iPhone. The video clips were fairly easy to edit (after I got some help from my techy teenagers, of course), and I was able to add other photos that corresponded with my dad’s stories. In Jeff’s book, he suggests limiting videos to 3 minutes to make them shareable on social media, but there was a lot of great info I just couldn’t cut out! I did make a few shorter clips, but the main video I’ll be sharing with friends and family is 15 minutes long — the maximum length that YouTube would allow me to upload. I’m very thankful to have captured my dad’s stories and photos on film and I’d love to do the same for the rest of the grandparents. It’s something I would not have considered if I hadn’t picked up the book.

Why You Should Buy Forever Legacy Book

Time doesn’t stop for anyone. If you have a loved one and you want to remember their story or share their wisdom (and jokes) with generations to come, this book is great. It provides the questions you may not have thought about asking and an easy way to write down memories in a compact, easy-to-store format. Even if you’re too busy now to create a video or transfer the text and photos to a digital book, you’ll have the answers all ready to go when you do have time. I think this book is an excellent buy for anyone who wants to preserve their family’s legacy.

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