With Thanks on Veteran’s Day

Today, we take a moment to thank those that have served and continue to serve our nation.  Because of your courage and sacrifice we enjoy our freedom and we are grateful!

As a small way to give-back to those that served, we’re offering a special rate to  capture the memories of your service through a YourVoice video biography.  If you or your loved one has served in our military & you want to preserve the memories of their time in service, contact us for more information on the options YourVoice offers and special rate.  We have  limited availability before the holidays and a video biography would be a gift to last a lifetime!

With Gratitude,

Angie & Justin

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Angie’s Pop-pop serving during World War 2

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Will you remember my story?

(Please note:  This post was previously written on October 15, and a day later Mom-mom fell and spent a few weeks at the hospital and nursing rehab.  While I could change my wording, I felt it best to share my feelings through this post in its original words.  Enjoy!)

Yesterday we celebrated my Mom-mom’s 88th birthday and, much like when I personally turned 35, it seemed like a monumental year. I found myself watching her from the distance, reminiscing in my mind of all that I have learned from her over the years and all the memories we have created. Many events stand out ~ my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party, the many trips to their cabin in Sullivan County, watching her wrap her hair in toilet paper each night, her enjoyment of baking and cooking, and more stories than I could count told around her kitchen table during many holiday gatherings.

For now these memories are tucked nicely in my mind and because Mom-mom lives with us, even our daughters have heard many of the stories. But, the realization that our time is limited ~ all of ours truthfully ~ and, as each year passes, I know that the day will come when we will lose our chance at making memories and reminiscing of those from the past. I may one day be so busy that I can’t remember the sound of her laughter or the advice she gave me during one of our drives to town. I won’t know how to make her “family-favorite” chicken pot pie, a recipe handed down to her by her own mother, but only kept in her memory. There’s a lot at stake ~ memories, sounds, advice, and comfort that we could miss out on when those we love are gone. Are we really willing to let those moments slip between our fingers? We already are….

When was the last time you sat down with someone in your family to simply talk? When was the last time you grabbed the camera and took a picture ~ even if it has to be a selfie ~ for no reason than to have that moment forever? How many times have you been too busy, too hurt, too caught up in our life of technology to slow down and spend time with the family members who helped shape you into who you are?

I will admit I am at fault. Mom-mom lives with us and I only grab the camera on holidays and, even then, I typically grab only a picture of our daughters with her. She sits in her room most days as I rush through the laundry, exercise, homework, dinner, etc…and there are days we barely get to truly connect because I am too busy rushing around. And, while I know this is just the way of life, I refuse to let this be how I remember this time in our life. As a follower of the book & blog, “Hands Free Mama” by Rachel Stafford, I’ve been working on the shift in “letting go….to grasp what really matters” & how important it is in my time as a Mom and Wife, but also as a Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, & Friend. There’s still work to do to be the person I want to be, the one who makes time for stories, laughter, baking, connecting, and, pictures. But, my day with Mom-mom yesterday was a good start at looking at life and preserving what is meaningful to me, was a good start….

meandmm1

Blessings,
Angie

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A loss, a look back, and a new venture

This summer I lost my grandfather. With his passing my wife Angie and I have lost all four of our grandfathers, while all four of our grandmothers are still with us. We consider ourselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up with our grandparents close by, and to have had all but one of them around for the better part of the thirty-some years of our lives. We also consider our two young girls (ages 8 and 10) blessed, whether they realize it yet or not, to have had the opportunity to get to know six of their great-grandparents.

From my own childhood I only truly remember one of my great-grandparents. As a young boy we would visit my great-grandmom with our family on our way to summer holiday picnics. But because the picnics always promised to have lots of cousins for me to run around with, I always eagerly awaited leaving her home so I could get on to play. I didn’t appreciate the stories she could have told of immigrating into Ellis Island from Austria, and I probably wouldn’t have understood them at that age anyway. As I aged into high school, I was generally too busy with school activities to get to visit her. She reached 95 before passing away, taking all her stories with her.

My grandfather and grandmother - earlier this year they celebrated 65 years of marriage.

My grandfather and grandmother – earlier this year they celebrated 65 years of marriage.

Similarly with my grandfathers, I wish I had taken the time to document some of their stories from the 1920’s, whether it was about serving in the Navy and seeing the world, or growing up working laborious hours on a family farm. To be fair, my first grandfather passed away unexpectedly when I was only eight, so there’s no one to blame for not spending time recording him tell of his exciting tales. For one thing, video cameras weren’t around back then. But I can only blame myself for always letting something more pressing or more urgent come in front of documenting my other grandfather’s life, which, if I remember, included meeting my grandmother while traveling to her family’s farm to work the fields, and later starting an auto salvage yard with his father and brother. Or, maybe I just never thought of it.

The lessons learned are simple: Life is short with unexpected turns. While our two girls will grow up being able to say they knew many of their great-grandparents, eventually they won’t remember much about them. They won’t have their narratives and life lessons, tales of accomplishments and setbacks, or stories of hard work and hardships to recite and pass along. And our future generations will have no knowledge of the challenges and miracles that occurred on branches higher up in the family tree…

..unless we recognize that the time is now to sit down with our remaining grandmothers – preserving what family history we can, to share with our girls when they are older and wiser.

It is with this outlook that my wife and I decided to offer a life story video biography service through Valley Videography, called YourVoice. While I have over 10 years of experience filming and producing wedding films and other event videos, I am very excited about offering this new service. Not only will it be the first time Angie and I will officially work together on Valley Videography’s projects, but I also see this as a great opportunity to use my video production skills to create expressive video biographies for others.

Four generations on Angie's side of the family.

Four generations on Angie’s side of the family.

With a degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Gerontology, Angie brings to Valley Videography a strong background in making personal connections with people and families. Further, she has a long history of direct sales experience, and a good amount of knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and proficiency working with families affected by this illness.

Initially we are only going to market our YourVoice service to friends and family (and friends of either!), until we get a few under our belt and work through finalizing packages, add-ons, and all the little details. If you would like to get started on a video biography of one of your family members, or know someone who you think would appreciate this service, please contact us at yourvoice@valleyvideography.com. Some preliminary details are on our website: valleyvideography.com/yourvoice

Avoid missing the same opportunities we missed with our own grandfathers. Let us work with your family to plan and produce a high-quality heirloom for future generations!

Best wishes,

Justin

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