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Do You Love Me? It’s Nice To Know

Posted by Leonard on May, 4, 2017

‘You’re upset, you’re worn out, go inside, go lie down. Maybe you’ve got indigestion!”

I was recently hired to film a very special 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Edmonds. Together with the photos and videos that the husband had edited to project for the crowd during the reception, was this great clip from Fiddler On The Roof in which the husband grills the wife about whether or not she loves him. The crowd loved it and it was a gentle ode to the challenges of marriage, and how they’d managed to stay strong together after all these years. The family sat together, parents and grandparents with the grandchildren at the head table laughing. The family was also of European descent and there were a number of people in the crowd with accents who’d immigrated to Seattle. It seemed to me like a clip that would be great to share at any similar wedding anniversary party or celebration.

To learn more about our lifecycle event video coverage, visit our page here http://lovinglegacyvideo.com/milestones-memorials/

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Adult Children Making Powerful Legacy Videos with and About Their Aging Parents with Dementia

Posted by Leonard on April, 5, 2017

The 2 videos below are different kinds of legacy or end of life videos. In these beautiful and sad videos, 2 adult children explore their parent’s aging process. More specifically they share their parent’s increasing dementia and memory loss.

In the video above, an old father can’t remember his family members, his life from day to day or other recent events but when his son takes him driving and plays the songs he sang throughout his career as a musician, the words are all there and he comes alive joyfully singing and returning to his old self. The son has begun using the videos he records to raise money to record an album with his dad singing and all proceeds going toward supporting The Alzheimers Society. So far he’s raised $163,000.

From his website:
I’m fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society because of the advice they’ve given us in the last few years. Without them we would have had very little idea or support about how to deal with even the basics of Dad’s condition.
The more Alzheimer’s kicked in, the more Dad became violent – both physically and verbally – it was incredibly difficult to manage. And terrifying at times.

Alzheimer’s Society provide a telephone helpline to sufferers and their families. I cannot begin to describe how a stranger’s voice at the end of the phoneline helped when things got really bad.

Dad was a singer throughout his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory when he got married and did the occasional bit of singing on side. His nickname is The Songaminute Man – simply because of how many songs he knows.

In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognising me as his son. Its a horrible illness.However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.

The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully it will help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phoneline to help other people like us.

The other video doesn’t have the same feel good thread, but is a very authentic and painful window into how it feels to see his aging mother lose her memory and even the awareness of who her son is to her.

A Son Documents His Mother's Increasing Dementia in Video Series from Loving Legacy Video on Vimeo.

To learn more about the projects visit:
http://www.songaminuteman.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6tmams7km6i0O9m9m3MP0Q
http://www.facebook.com/songaminute

https://www.youtube.com/c/joejoe
https://mollysmovement.com/

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Afghan Blankets – One Grandma’s Thread That Connects A Family – Heirlooms for Future Generations and Refugees

Posted by Leonard on April, 2, 2017

For this American family of Syrian and Lebanese heritage, Afghan blankets that women of the family have been making for generations are now connecting them with refugees in their flight from Syria. This beautiful story is part of a larger family history project that Loving Legacy Video produced. Faced with moving out of their home and downsizing their possessions, this grandma who’d been making these blankets for family members for decades didn’t know what to do with more than 20 extra blankets she’d made over the years. In a Seattle Times article, she learned about a local woman putting together care package boxes for Syrian refugees and she reached out the effort. Other video clips included the role of food and culture in their childhood, the older generation’s choice not to teach Arabic to the first generation of children born in the US, thoughts about parenting and grandparenting, retirement, aging and death.

Afghan Blankets – A Thread That Connects A Family – Loving Legacy Video from Loving Legacy Video on Vimeo.

Seattle Baby boxes for Syrian refugees

Grandchildren with handmade Afghans

Grandchildren with handmade Afghans

Handmade Afghans

Grandchildren with handmade Afghans

Grandchildren with handmade Afghans

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Silver Kite – A Seattle Intergenerational Community Arts Program

Posted by Leonard on February, 20, 2017

I enjoyed the opportunity to spend this morning with the folks at Silver Kite, a Seattle intergenerational community arts program. They’re doing great things using art as a vehicle for connecting across generations and cultures, promoting social change and bringing people together. They also offer professional development workshops for older adult service providers and educators in arts leadership, and intergenerational programming. A mutual friend had introduced me to the founder/director Jen Kulik who shared with me her personal story around the birth of Silver Kite and what’s at the heart of their work. One of the coolest projects they have is something called the Spark Box, which is a subscription based art box with materials and activities that prompt the creation of artworks with personal storytelling exercises. I think it’s a beautiful idea and was happy to see examples of what the boxes contain. It’s amazing to me that Silver Kite offers classes in graphic memoir, visual and digital storytelling, dementia friendly poetry and storytelling and so much more. Intergenerational theater programs are also one core piece of their work, both leading exercises and performances with youth and elders acting together. And they bring the exercises and games to the community, to libraries, assisted living communities and nursing homes around the Seattle area. Very impressive work. To learn more, visit their class listings page at http://www.silverkite.us/arts-with-older-adults

Studies have shown participation in the arts is beneficial to older adults’ self-esteem, socialization, communication skills, and emotional health.

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2 Adult Siblings Dealing With Their Mother’s Ageing and Death – A Beautiful Video

Posted by Leonard on February, 13, 2017

The Big Picture is a beautiful short video animation about two very different adult brothers, dealing with the ageing and death of their mother. It’s a unique form of animation that is apparently created with life sized characters. In the story 2 brothers argue over whether to put their mom in a nursing home, and deal with each other through her ageing, and over her eventual death. I really enjoyed this piece- the aesthetic, the content and dialogue and overall story. It’s a very real portrait of a family struggling to deal with their ageing parent, sibling rivalry, conflict, who does the caregiving, makes the decisions, cleans mom’s body and much more. I love the quality and breadth of the videos Vimeo shares. This short has apparently won numerous awards throughout the US and Europe.

The Bigger Picture from daisy jacobs on Vimeo.

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A Grandfather Bequeaths a Profound Secret to his Grandson

Posted by Leonard on February, 9, 2017

Wow. ‘Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven‘ is a gorgeous short documentary film about the relationship between a young boy and his dying grandfather with whom he’s close. I believe the film is in Swedish and filmed in Sweden. The film jumps back and forth between the birth and early years of the boy’s life with his grandfather, and the time they spend together while the old man is dying. There are no other people in the film until the last scene. One amazing scene involves the grandchildren touching his dead body. This short moved me to tears. A really beautiful family portrait.

Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven from Aeon Video on Vimeo.

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Making Videos With and About Grandparents

Posted by Leonard on February, 4, 2017

‘Directed by Tweetie’ is a very sweet Scottish documentary film made by a 23 year old with his ageing grandparents. It’s a beautiful family portrait in which very little actually happens. It’s all just him interacting with his grandparents, putting the microphone on them, talking about why he’s filming them, visiting parts of their home and garden, etc. The grandparents very innocently cooperate, answering his casual questions, watching him assembling and adjusting his equipment, and along the way engaging about how they see themselves, including reacting to watching the footage that’s been shot. It’s simple and sweet.

Directed by Tweedie from Duncan Cowles on Vimeo.

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Video of 93 Year Old Man Singing to His Dying Wife in Hospital Bed

Posted by Leonard on January, 31, 2017

For me, watching this beautiful video of an elderly man singing to his dying wife in her hospital bed brings back memories of sitting by my own grandmother’s nursing home bedside. I’d hold her hand and stay talking to her. By that time, she was almost fully incapable of speaking but would every once in a while blurt something out that would so clearly confirm that she was hearing everything I was saying. Sometimes it was just the confirmation of her eyes, making clear she was hearing me. Other times she’d speak a few words that would surprise me. Sometimes I would kind of climb onto the bed by her side. Not smooshing her but half on half off, my torso by her side and head on her shoulder but off the bed from the waist down. I had a similar experience when my other grandmother’s sister was on the verge of dying. We’d flown in from Seattle to see her one last time, and she was laying in the hospital bed barely conscious. We’d been told she wasn’t speaking and had little time to live. Out of nowhere in response to our presence and speaking to her, she blurted out a series of words clarifying that she was right there with us. It was powerful and beautiful. She died shortly after.

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How To Talk To Old People Video

Posted by Leonard on January, 22, 2017

This is a sweet video passed along by a friend. The video’s title ‘How to Talk to Old People’ is what first caught my eye but then I stuck around to learn some insights. It’s a goofy interview with a 100 year old grandmother in Bellevue WA. Her grandson is interviewing her about the kinds of questions she loves to be asked. She also talks about the most common questions she’s asked by people who marvel at her age. It’s beautiful to see her so vibrant and clear at a full 100 years of age.

 

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Don’t Wait Till Your Dying Words…

Posted by Leonard on January, 17, 2017

…To Say What’s Most Important.

Tell those who need to hear it that you love them and share your wisdom while you still can. These are some of the insights and encouraging words from hospice chaplain Kerry Egan. Egan has been on a national book tour promoting her new work ‘On Living Book‘. I caught her interview with Terry Gross and this short PBS video and at the heart of it is the opportunity that Loving Legacy Video exists to enable; the sharing of our lives, stories, ideas and experiences to better know ourselves and our loved ones. Her work is rooted in hospice work and speaking with people in their end of life but the sentiment is the same for all, that there’s no reason to wait to share your life with the people you love while you can. And especially meaningful for me was this list of 5 important things that dying people want you to know. Overall, I loved listening to her interview and went looking for more of her work. I’m excited to read her book as it seems especially relevant in the work of Loving Legacy Video, specifically for me that we’re not just collecting the familiar stories your friends and family have been hearing for years. While those are meaningful and valuable, it is in my experience the deeper questions about the life one’s lived, choices they wish they’d made differently, the parent or adult child that they wanted to be, and thoughts about death and dying that bring out the most powerful content in our interviews. Those are the spaces where you get a true sense of people’s experience, their values and what they at this stage in life see as most important and central to their own lives.

 

Author Kerry Egan of 'On Living' with Video Essay on PBS Newshour Segment 'In My Humble Opinion' from Loving Legacy Video on Vimeo.

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What I Learned About Preserving Memories When My iPhone 7 Was Stolen on The Mexico City Metro

Posted by Leonard on January, 12, 2017

On the night of December 30th 2016, I was robbed on the Mexico City Metro during a short romantic get away with my wife. Enjoying leaving our 5 year old son behind with his grandma, we visited museums, ate great food, and walked all day long. Overall we had a fabulous time, thrilled with our brief child free vacation in this chaotic and wonderful metropolis. And I’d taken a ton of great photos and videos along the way.

Amazing mural of the women of the world at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. A simply fantastic and amazing museum. 3 hours was not enough.

On our last day, we’d visited the Palacio Bellas Artes with the murals of Rivera, Orozco and Sigueiros, gone to the top of the Torre Latino Americano with sweeping views of the entire city from an open air observation deck on the 48th floor, taken a bicycle pedicab around the Zocalo, and enjoyed margaritas at a rooftop cafe. All the while, I’d been capturing time lapse sequences, panoramic photos, regular photos and short video clips on my brand new iPhone 7 plus. The images were amazing, and as a filmmaker, I was excited.

In the early evening we stumbled on the famous Cafe Tacuba where we had a lovely dinner, and after having used Uber to get around the city easily for days, we decided to take the Metro on our last night. In the station, though the trains came frequently, we waited for a third train hoping it would be less crowded. On the platform, we were kissing, I was taking photos of the massive crowds, and we were casually enjoying our last night in the city.

Stepping into the train, I was pushed noticeably hard from behind into the the crowded car. At the moment, I assumed it was the somewhat aggressive but normal flow of the last few people trying to get on. Within seconds, I realized I’d been pickpocketed, and my brand new phone was gone. I’d just lost a brand new ~$900 device, an entire Mexico City vacation’s worth of photos and videos, and perhaps most troubling, some information and sound recordings that could never be replaced.

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At home in Seattle, I have a business called Loving Legacy Video. The tagline is ‘Stories That Matter From The People You Love’. My work is guiding and filming autobiographical interviews with elders about the life they’ve lived. One of the challenges I face in my marketing materials is how to gently say to people, “this opportunity won’t last forever, do it before it’s too late”, encouraging the adult children of elderly people to hire me to do the work before their parents memory fades or they pass away. And in some ways, that is exactly what I didn’t do in terms of making sure that the memories and images and sound recordings that were in my phone were not downloaded and preserved when they should have been. These are 2 very different situations, but they both involve protecting memories before it’s too late and they’re gone.

Some lessons I learned: Since I’d recently bought a new iPhone, I hadn’t taken the necessary time to set up my iCloud account and arrange my synch appropriately, and that was as easy as checking and unchecking some boxes in my settings. I’d left the box to upload my photos to iCloud unchecked. I’d left the box to synch my ‘Notes’ unchecked, and biggest bummer was that I’d left the box to synch my ‘Voice Memos’ (sound recordings) unchecked. Those were recordings I’d made of my infant son’s language skills developing. Those were the hardest thing to lose.

Fortunately, as soon as I realized what had happened and before going to the police station, I used my wife’s phone to engage the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature, and using my Apple ID was able to lock the phone, and then eventually erase the phone. Then I contacted my carrier and with its serial number, the phone would become unusable by anyone else going forward. I spent some time imagining the person who’d stolen my phone immediately turning it off to disable the tracking function, and the Find My Phone feature was saying that all devices of mine were offline. (Despite all of this, a few days later I got messages from Facebook and Gmail that my passwords had been changed which was scary, and I’ll never know how they got access to those accounts given the phone was supposed to have been locked…)

In the process of dealing with T Mobile and Apple to best handle the situation in the days following the incident, I did learn about the iCloud feature ‘Photostream’ (available for 30 days after the image was taken) which to my pleasant surprise, had backed up a handful of the still images from the beginning of our trip and which I was able to recover. Had I logged onto wifi at all while in Mexico City, all of my photos up till that point would have appeared in my Photostream feed but unfortunately I had never gone on a wifi network.

From what I learned, my suggestions are:
Remember your Apple ID, it may come in very handy in locating your lost or stolen phone
Photocopy and keep separate your personal info. Had that been my credit card or passport, those copies would’ve been essential in getting back on my feet (should be standard particle for international travelers).
Know that your photos may be retrievable via Photostream for 30 days if you’ve logged on to wifi
Go in and make sure that your iCloud and synch settings are what you want, constantly backing up your info to minimize the pain and loss of images and information in case something similar happens to you.
Engage the setting that requires a fingerprint or code to access the phone
Buy travel insurance, as that likely would’v

e covered at least the cost to replace the new device whereas my homeowner’s policy that would’ve covered it would’ve meant higher premiums if I’d made a claim
Go visit Mexico City, it’s an incredible place
* and take the time to interview your elderly family memories, record their voices and stories, and engage them in talking about their life experience, because if you wait till it’s too late, you’re likely to regret it.

These were a few of the images that I was able to salvage from the trip or were taken on my wife’s phone:

UPDATE: Shortly after my phone was stolen, I got emails from both Facebook and Google saying that my passwords had been changed, when I knew I had done no such thing. I was confused as to how anybody could have accessed those accounts given that I’d locked the phone as soon as it was stolen. I did quickly change those passwords and no damage was done to either account. I did touch base with a close friend who works at Google in an unrelated department who shared the following tips with me from his colleagues as to what to do to best secure and protect your Google or Gmail accounts:

1) ALWAYS LOCK YOUR PHONE
2) ensure you’re able to “remote wipe” your phone if it’s stolen
3) “add a lot of backups”. Not only can you add multiple Google Prompt devices or security keys to your account, you can add something like 10 phone numbers (a primary we SMS automatically, plus backups we contact only on request), printable backup codes, and Google Authenticator (the security app)
4) get “authentication codes” for your Google account, so you can prove it is yourself when using 2 Factor Authentication
5) something called “yubikeys”

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I Wish You Enough – Final Conversation Between Elderly Father and Adult Daughter

Posted by Leonard on December, 15, 2016

This is a beautiful animation of a final conversation between an elderly father and his adult daughter. I believe it was produced by the health and wellness website CureJoy. It was meaningful to me in considering these challenging conversations we have with our ageing or dying parents. How to say goodbye in the last few times we see each other. How to have difficult conversations about painful subjects. How to get past previous conflicts and patterns in the way we communicate with each other. I liked the simplicity of the animation in tackling these situations. It was upbeat and feel good, but spoke to these situations in general. In the work of Loving Legacy Video, it’s amazing to know that the videos we produce intentionally ask deeper questions about the things people want others to know about their life, about regrets they’ve had or situations they wish they’d handled differently or made other choices about the path they took. Or about the type of parent or grandparent they tried to be.

'I Wish You Enough' Animation from Loving Legacy Video on Vimeo.

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2 Ways We Frame Our Personal Narrative, Redemptive and Contamination Stories

Posted by Leonard on November, 29, 2016

In the work I do at Loving Legacy Video, I show up without much prior knowledge of the life my clients have lived. Sure we have the opportunity ahead of time to discuss areas they’d like to highlight or avoid in the video, but for the most part, the discussion is lead by the direction they take our interview. I listen well and dive into the things that are being presented, but people tell their story, they craft their won personal narrative and they have choices about how they want this document to reflect their experience. I found this Ideas.Ted.Com article to be insightful when considering how people choose to tell stories about the life they’ve lived.

“In his interviews, he asks research subjects to divide their lives into chapters and to recount key scenes, such as a high point, a low point, a turning point or an early memory. He encourages participants to think about their personal beliefs and values. Finally, he asks them to reflect on their story’s central theme. He has discovered interesting patterns in how people living meaningful lives understand and interpret their experiences. People who are driven to contribute to society and to future generations, he found, are more likely to tell redemptive stories about their lives, or stories that transition from bad to good. There was the man who grew up in dire poverty but told McAdams that his hard circumstances brought him and his family closer together. There was the woman who told him that caring for a close friend as the friend was dying was a harrowing experience, but one that ultimately renewed her commitment to being a nurse, a career she’d abandoned. These people rate their lives as more meaningful than those who tell stories that have either no or fewer redemptive sequences.”

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