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My Story: My Why (Audio)

My passion has always been storytelling. But it wasn’t until I lost two close friends to cancer, that I realized my passion had an important purpose.  As is often the case, I learned this the hard way; through loss and missed opportunities.

 

David lived a colorful, unconventional life. He was brilliant, travelled the world and came out as gay long before it was socially acceptable to do so. I had no doubt that David was the perfect candidate for a recorded oral history. I also knew that time was short. But as is often the case, life got in the way and David passed before I could interview him. 

David’s death was the wake-up call I needed. The regret I felt at not recording his story for his family was crushing at first. Over, time however, the guilt I felt turned to determination and focus. I vowed that, if I was given the opportunity, I wouldn’t let the innumerable distractions of my life get in the way.

 

Fortunately (and unfortunately), I got that chance. Within a few months of David’s death, my dear friend Richard was diagnosed with the exact same cancer as David. He had been in remission, but the cancer was back with a vengeance. So, I jumped right in.

 

What came from Richard’s interviews was nothing short of magical. Richard, who came from very humble beginnings, grew to represent the “American Dream”. He was the star quarterback in high school, admitted to a coveted dental program, and was a respected and sought after oral surgeon.

 

And while Richard talked briefly about some of his successes, he spent the majority of his time revealing a side of himself that no one, not even his wife or children, had ever heard about---his vulnerability, insecurities, and regrets. As I listened to Richard’s courageous self-reflection, I realized that this was my true calling. That I could use my gift of interviewing and story-telling to not just feed my own soul, but the souls of the story-tellers themselves.

 

Often, Richard began the interview with little strength and vitality. Within a few minutes however, Richard’s voice became stronger, he laughed, he became more animated and optimistic. What I was seeing, first-hand, was something I had always suspected and what more and more research is confirming. Richard’s stories transported his brain and body to periods of his life before his illness. Re-living these, through storytelling had a profound, healing effect on my friend.

 

Seeing the healing aspect of storytelling, was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place. Not only could I do what I loved, not only would I be providing families with the gift of their legacies, but I was also helping them heal by bringing them more joy in the time they had left. 

 

And while my years in advertising allowed me to be creative and draw upon my love of writing and storytelling, it didn’t provide me with one of my strongest fundamental values---to help others.

 

Richard passed away in 2020 surrounded by a family that loved him deeply. He, like everyone, left behind memories and stories his family could tell about him. But in this case, his family had something even more tangible, one-step closer to his true essence---his own voice telling his story.

 

And this time, as I grieved the loss of another close friend, I heard something very different from Richard’s wife than I had heard from David’s siter.

 

“Thank God we did the oral history recording.”

 

Soon after Richard’s passing, I was hired by Memory Well to help market their business. In a strange

twist of fate, Memory Well was also using life histories as a way of increasing quality care for its patients.

 

To best help market their business, I had to focus on what made their elderly care unique. To me, the answer was clear---family histories. I dove into the research, and it confirmed what I already knew. Recording life histories has immense psychological, genealogical, and restorative effects on both the storyteller and their families. And it wasn’t just spouses or grown children who benefitted from hearing these stories. It was teen-agers, friends and neighbors.

 

While each listener gains their own insights and lessons, one thing is universal.

 

Oral histories bring families closer together.

 

In a society where families are increasingly living farther apart, and church and community involvement are dwindling, there is a pervasive sense of isolation and loneliness that social media will ever cure.

 

This pervasive sense of wanting to connect to our histories has led to the immense popularity of sites like Ancesstory.com.

 

Rather than receiving the names and brief descriptions of those you may (or may not) be related to, Memory Lane takes it a step further. You actually get the chance to listen to the voice---and all the intonations and emotions and even the pauses, that are so relatable. Hearing rather than just reading something, has an indelible power to affect our brains and our heart on a very deep level.

 

The beauty of our service is that it is a gift to the story-teller and those who receive this precious gift. Simply by sharing their life histories-with all its foibles and mishaps and successes and challenges, they are leaving a legacy of enormous impact. And for those who get to hear the legacy of their loved one, it brings them a sense of inclusion and familial belonging that lasts a lifetime.

 

So, if you think you need to leave behind a legacy of riches, or buildings inscribed with your name, or a series of block-buster films---think again. Your story provides layer upon layer of benefits that result in the most impactful and unforgettable legacy of all.

 

All you have to do now, is contact us and learn more about how easy, fun and creative your legacy can be.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Schneider

Founder & CEO

Memoir Lane Studios

Contact

I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.

123-456-7890 

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