I have an interest in capturing oral history. It can feel like a way to review the life and legacy of an individual. Recently, I had the honour to sit with a 91-year-old (with dementia) discussing the highlights of his life. A week later this soul passed away, and the memory of our conversations have felt hauntingly beautiful.
The opportunity to lay out your life for another is unique. It provides a chance to review, re-examine and explain what your journey has been about.
I heard what had touched his soul the most; what he would never forget and the key moments that changed his life’s direction. To learn about a journey, (unknowingly) so close to its end, and hear honest reflections and gratitude towards past experiences and life lessons is a humbling experience.
It reminds me that we are not here forever. Therefore savour every second and act through with caution. For most of us, however old we get – and even if we suffer from memory loss – are likely to remember our milestone moments well. These are the memories we will review in your spare time when we question our life’s worth.
Review your milestones
The truth is any moment can become a milestone moment; and days that I am sure he expected to start and end ordinarily, became extraordinary before he could comprehend them. With this in mind, I shall try (even more) to live each moment with authenticity and contentment – happy in how I have lived, and able to come to terms with situations I wish could have ended up differently – for we can only control our own actions.
I hope that if one day I have the privilege to live to 91, and am able to share my story with the youngsters around me, that I can speak as enthusiastically, with as much wisdom and eternal gratitude for a life well lived, as this enlightened soul did.
If you are struggling to support someone with dementia or with a bereavement: get in touch