What is it like to work with Preserving With Purpose?
My name is Patty Endres and I was first introduced to Preserving With Purpose a couple years back when I met Claire Richardson at a radio station luncheon. I could tell right away she had a passion for getting stories and preserving people’s histories. Interestingly enough, in my 30 years as an activity director and recreation therapist working with seniors, I had continuously looked for somebody or something that would preserve what their lives had been for their families. I had even gone to a class about how to preserve your own story and learned what questions to ask…so that the seniors I worked with could write those down for their families.
When I heard about what Claire was doing for people with Preserving With Purpose, I immediately thought it would be a fantastic idea for my mother in law, Mary Lou.
I wanted to do it for her because I believe she has such an interesting life. No, she hadn’t done anything crazy like fly airplanes, but she’s a small-town farm girl with great down-home ideas. I thought that her story would be a really unique gift to give her 10 children for Christmas.
When I brought the idea to her, the initial thought was “Oh no…my life isn’t that interesting.” But you could also tell she was super happy that I thought her life was that interesting. It was almost like she was saying, “I don’t want the attention, but really I kind of do.”
I had never considered video recording Mary Lou’s story myself. Even if we had attempted to do so, we wouldn’t have come close to making the final product that Claire and her team created for our family.
For example, when I arrived there for the recording, I was super excited to see that she had a professional cameraman there with multiple cameras, precision lighting, and high-end microphones.
I also realized the power of having another person ask the right questions.
Claire asks leading questions that we wouldn’t have known to ask. In my experience, when family interviews other family members, they talk about things that they already know. They don’t ask questions that lead into other subjects or reasons why someone did something.
Claire has a special ability to give you insight into the person you think you know so well. Case in point, after watching the video we found ourselves saying, “Well I didn’t know she did that.” Or if you’ve heard a story 100 times, you said “Well I didn’t know that was the reason why.”
Mary Lou loved the process of taking notes and preparing for the video (part of Claire’s whole system), maybe even more than the video itself.
Initially after the recording, Mary Lou thought she screwed the whole thing up. But then after she watched it and saw how it was edited, she said “Wow, that’s way better than I thought it would be.”
The process was very easy for me because Claire and her team really do it all. They simply sent us a bill. We paid half upfront, then anyone else who wanted to contribute financially could help to pay the rest once the final product was delivered. The video was delivered 3-4 weeks after the recording.
I was happy that I could be the daughter-in-law and family member who could help give everyone the precious gift of preserving Mary Lou’s story.
The lasting effects of the video were more than I could have asked for. For instance, I knew it would allow the grandkids who don’t live close by, to get to know who grandma really is. Many of them won’t realize the gem of a grandmother they have until it’s too late – and they’re too young to know the right questions to ask.
What I didn’t anticipate was having it enrich the relationship between them. Because of the video, they now know her in a way that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. They thought to ask more questions both about her and the time period she lived through.
For a lot of kids, history is boring. But when you see how your family was able to make it through things like The Great Depression or WWII, it’s not boring at all. It was as if Mary Lou’s video helped everyone walk into a living museum.
Thanks to Claire and Preserving With Purpose, we had the ability to show Mary Lou just how much we believe in the importance of her life and the meaning of her legacy. I can’t imagine not having it.
Testimony- Bart and Dot
Testimony- Bob and Roberta
A son’s perspective of giving his mom the greatest gift.