The Importance of Preserving the Past

“Being listened to and heard is one of the greatest desires of the human heart”
-Richard Carlson

By the time this is printed I will have attended two major events honoring our greatest generation. The Washington State Legacy WWII project “Washington Remembers”-celebrating and recognizing the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the Polson museum’s Pioneer of the Year award honoring two of our local citizens.

In the nearly 27 years that I have served people, my deepest regret is not starting much earlier than I did recording, documenting and photographing the wonderful and interesting people that have crossed my path. By the time I began my project “Embracing Age”, far too many years had passed and so many stories were lost. I feel strongly that everyone has a story. Some are better than others. Some are short, others quite long and some not as interesting.

The people I ask to tell me their stories are almost all over 90 years of age and several of them well past 100. They don’t always think they have a story to tell, but once I get them started they begin sharing the smiles, tears, memories and laughter. When I see that sparkle in their eyes, I can’t stop myself. I want more and they want to tell more. I am now the collector of their stories and the photos to go along with them. A few years ago I began to listen more intently. Having been a good listener all my life, I knew that now was the time to capture what was being shared with me before the stories were gone.

I have met war heroes, business women from a time when that was much less common, boxers, missionaries, coaches, actresses, politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers and so many people who built our community-each one with a unique story of their own. I don’t think of writer as one of my attributes. But I’m so passionate about saving and gathering these stories that I will stumble through the task of trying to write the best I can, but most importantly listening and documenting.

My hobby is photography so fortunately for me, while I am honored to hear the stories I am also blessed with photographing these people as they tell me their stores. Their eyes light up, sometimes they fill with tears. Big smiles appear across their faces. There are times when they look at me and tell me they hadn’t thought of that particular moment or story in years and how it warms their heart to tell it. If you are fortunate to have an elderly family member or friend in your life, take a minute and ask about their life. There is some urgency in collecting these precious family stories because older people will obviously not be around forever.

I was born with a great curiosity of knowing about people-where they come from, what they did for living, their early beginnings and how they feel now looking back on their lives. I hope to continue with this project and would enjoy hearing from others about people whom I can meet and tell their stories.
I can be reached at or at 1-888-217-1655 X107 and please go to my website and read the stories of some of the people I have met:

Author: Jill Bellis
Providing Guidance and Care Options for Families