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,


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