• Mallory Garber

Time Capsules for The Timeless

Nobody lives forever, but why can't their story?

There are so many different names grandparents go by and each and every one of them are unique to every individual family. There is Granny, Grand Pop, Abba, Gramps, Grand Dad, Pappy, and of course Grandpa. We call mine “Papa.” We just celebrated his 92nd birthday and I am embarrassed to say he is in better shape than I am. He might just be the most active 92-year-old I know. He goes to the gym at least three times a week, makes daily runs to Publix, all the while maintaining his talent of acrylic painting. I am so lucky to have someone in my life that has lived through so much and can share their experiences with me. There are times we are sitting and I think to myself, 

“this person is just 8 years from living for a whole century.” 

He is by far the most wise in our family. He’s been through it all from being in the Navy to getting his family through a depression, he has always set a good example for me to follow.

I think our elders deserve more respect than what they are given. Nobody wants to grow old. These people reached the inevitable we all fear, making them stronger than ever. So much can happen during a lifetime, why should all that go to waste. Everyone deserves to have their whole story heard, not just the chapters. 

We underestimate all the things a person can go through. Every year, my old high school, Lake Highland, would host a Veterans day honoring all those who have served our country. The day consists of a show put on by each of their talented singing and dancing groups, actors, and artists. Afterwards the veterans are treated to a complimentary food and drink service with live music. Being that both of my grandfathers had served, they would be invited every year. The event was all they could talk about until the next would take place. My grandpa would turn to me and say, “these kids are so talented, I can’t believe they do all of this for us.” Why shouldn’t he believe it? They deserve every minute of it. One feature of the show is asking each branch of the army to stand when their name is called. There is something beautiful about watching each and every one of them stand with pride as their eyes glimmer with nostalgia. 

I served as a volunteer each of these years, solely for the experience. I was surrounded by all these amazing stories I never knew existed. It’s one thing when their granddaughter would relay the story to me, but to hear from a first-hand survivor? That is a whole other story. I can recall sitting back, listening to one man’s particular story thinking, 

“Wow his life would make an amazing movie.”

And then it hit me…everyone’s lives are their own personal movie, one that should be viewed. Too much can happen in a century for one to live a “boring life.” Just living that long itself is exciting!

There is one story in particular I will never forget. During one of the Veterans day shows, by grandpa leaned over and shared one of his own stories. During WWII he was placed on an escort carrier: The USS Copahee-cve12. He was on this ship during the Okinawa Typhoon for 3 days witnessing waves over 60 feet. Before the typhoon hit, he was on the bow look out station. He reported a land like sighting only to realize that it was a massive typhoon wave headed their way with no where to run. As a port look out, he was very lucky to make it back into the ship with the latch closed before the typhoon released its wrath. He said that was the closest call to death he had ever had. 

As he told the story, I sat there eager as ever, hanging on to every word. It is stories like this that should not go unheard. It is stories like this that make people respect you and understand you. Hearing it from him first hand really allowed me to visualize the experience. 

I am not going to sugar coat it, nobody lives forever…but why can’t their legacy? If you are reading this and are considered an “old person,” go you! You should be proud of all the accomplishments you have achieved and continue making. Nobody knows you better than you. There is nothing worse than having some annoying relative try to tell stories about you before they were even alive. They mean well, but we all know the story will never be told right unless it comes from the source. Now you are probably wondering, “yeah, so what’s your point?” My point is that most people think time capsules are meant to be made when you are young, but the most vital time to make them is after you have experienced life. Let your stories be heard and live in the future. There are plenty of reasons to create time capsules once you have lived a full lifetime. 

Inspire your descendants 

I think something everyone fears after dying is the thought of being forgotten. Nobody wants to go through the ups and downs of life and think it was all for nothing. Think of your descendants 50 years down the line, after you are gone, don’t you want them to know who you are? Tell them the things you wish you had done when you were their age and why they should do them. 

Secret Scandal?

Let’s be real, everyone has secrets. Is yours big enough to reveal? Secrets can range from an unknown family member to an affair you don’t want revealed until much, much later. It’s hard for people to judge you when it comes from a capsule long after you are gone. It may sound sneaky and mischievous, but some things are better left unsaid until they are found. 

Speak for Yourself 

Time capsules give you the opportunity to preserve the memory of you the way you want to be remembered. Nobody knows you better than you. having your story be passed along through different generations of people is like a game of telephone. It gets messy, confusing, and ultimately lost. With a time capsule people can remember you the way you are right now forever. No if’s, and’s, or but’s.

Now, more than ever, time with our grandparents is crucial. I never realized how much I took for granted hanging out with my grandpa until Covid hit. Now I am lucky if I get to spend 20 minutes with him sitting 6 feet apart with our masks on. Before he would teach me how to paint, play his opera music and make me taste test all of his finest wine. Last week I actually wrote a whole blog focused on Corona and how it has impacted the way we live and the way we should capture our experiences. While writing the blog, it really made me realize how important it is to be there for one another in times like these. While it is hard to do that with the inability of actually seeing each other, modern technology has given us the opportunity to be creative with being “alone together.”

A prime example of bringing family and community together virtually is NotForgotten’s Go Fund Me. This fundraiser is meant to go towards senior citizens and affordable time capsules. Find their secret to happiness that has kept them alive all these years and capture them without the fear of decay. I know what you are thinking and no, it is not complicated. All it takes is starting a go-fund-me page exclusively with NotForgotten. Once you reach the goal of $350, your elder is granted 2 GB of storage which holds up to 570 photos. This leaves plenty of room for newspaper clippings, letters, military records, videos, and more. Once the capsule is fulfilled, it’s stored safely for 150 years and cared for by the Digital Preservation Trust.

The whole point of having a go-fund-me is to create an affordable gift for those who have lived through it all and deserve the world. I know some of you may think $350 is a hefty price to pay, but not when you have people to come together with. $350 divided by 25 is $14. You probably spend twice as much than that for a fancy salad! All it takes is one family, one class room, one neighborhood to come together and bring one fragile person a timeless activity.

Not to sound like a promo but…it gets better! If you or anyone you know has reached 100 years old, NotForgotten has an all expense paid time capsule to reward those who have made it so far. 

Now I’m going to say what everyone’s thinking, “How the hell is my grandpa going to work this thing?” Believe me, I know how hard it is for elders to work with technology. I’ve had to watch first hand my grandpa squint at his cell phone while continuously tapping random applications until he could find the camera. There is the beauty in NotForgotten’s fundraiser. All that is needed is a simple link and the rest is an easy guide from there. 

This kind of gift does not just have to be for your grandparent. Has there ever been an older person that you see seem extremely lonely, but had no idea what to do about it? Well this is the perfect opportunity to act! Be the person who makes someone who has nobody be remembered. There doesn’t always need to be an incentive to do a good deed. The idea of making another life matter in itself should be enough. 

Time capsules are a way of giving Seniors the emotional closure they need. It gives them the opportunity to reminisce on all their stories not only for themselves, but for anyone in the future who may be interested. There is comfort in knowing you can still be there for people even after you are gone. Digital capsules give generations an authentic experience into the deceased and get a real sense on who they were. 

One of our clients, Robert Smith, shared his experience making a time capsule with NotForgotten and his 86-year-old father: 

“I just wanted to let you know what a pleasure Daniel our Virtual Videographer was yesterday. He was amazing with my Dad and certainly put my 86 year old father at ease throughout the entire experience. He was a real jewel!. It was certainly an amazing day for my father to reminisce his entire life over a virtual connection with a soft soul. You made that happen for my father and his life has been enriched yet again . The experience was pleasurable and seamless…everyone did a GREAT job!”

For Smith, making a capsule for his father turned into a time for unique bonding and understanding. That is what this is all about, bringing people together to truly understand one another. The ability to allow an elder to get back in touch with their youth is like no other. Share that magic with them though time capsules.

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