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Early 2015: As the plane taxied away from the terminal I was surprised to find the seat next to me empty. An empty seat seems to be the ever-elusive luxury my luck just can’t afford. Maybe it was my gray pallor of exhaustion, or the still partially mud caked boots from being stuck on the side of the road the day before matched with the wrinkled clothes I threw on in my sleep-deprived stupor that emanated a “steer clear zone”. Or maybe it was just a sweet mercy, because heaven was certainly aware that I needed every bit of that seventeen-inch buffer as I tried to settle my soul and hide my teary eyes. After all that had transpired in the last twenty-four hours the news that our latest subject had passed away the day before was too much to believe. Four days previous as I made my way through the airport I learned we had the last-minute honor of filming her. Three days previous I spent the majority of the day sitting in her kitchen flipping through photos laughing and getting to know a remarkable woman. Two days previous I found myself fussing over her like my own grandmother as we settled her in and filmed this congenial lady. She had found a very real spot in my heart as happens so often as I have the privilege of capturing a life. One of the very last things I did before I left her home that afternoon was snap this photo. As I sat there on that sunny runway, phone still gripped in my hands, trying to wrap my head around the sudden news of her sudden passing, the recognition that I had unknowingly been part of an orchestrated timing too perfect to be dismissed as anything but divine sank deep. We literally captured some of her very last words, and oh what beautiful words they were. I’m still moved, and I’m still humbled. So, here’s to a woman who lived full and long and vibrantly, with courage and laughter and determination, and who left the world a much better place for her having been in it.
The following is a Production Diary snippet:
By Ryan Brown
“Her faith was something that was absolutely inspiring. Here is a woman who supported and raised a large family and who said she was most proud of raising her children to be good people. What else can a parent ask of their children? She smiled a lot during the interview, more than others I’ve been a part of, and when she spoke of her children and her grandchildren there was a lot of emotion in her voice.
I guess what struck me the most was the fact that I felt like I got to turn back time a little bit in the time I spent talking with her. Our conversation transcended her age and physical frailty, and let me see what it was like to study music at Berkeley, remember the end of WWII, look forward to and become a mother, and support her family throughout her life. It was an eye-opening experience.
I almost couldn’t believe it. We had just been talking with this vibrant, smiling woman, and to hear that she had a stroke soon after we finished interviewing and filming seemed too incredible to believe. The next day we received word that she passed away. We were able to use some of the footage we recorded for a memorial film for her funeral which would take place in the next week. The timing seemed too perfect for coincidence.
‘What are you most proud of?’ ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ ‘What role has religion played in your life?’ Her answers to these powerful questions gave the film a hopeful ending. In her answers she talked about wanting to be with her husband after she passed away, and she expressed her pride in the lives of her children and grandchildren.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]