History Brings Families Together: The McNulty’s

On September 1, we wrote about the healing power of telling stories. As Reel Tributes’ Chief Videographer and Editor, I’d like to supplement that blog post with a personal anecdote.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Cresence McNulty and her family on a tribute video (you can view an excerpt of her video on our sample page). The experience was a delight and privilege, due in large part to Cresence’s family. The process of making a personal history video always draws a family together – to share photos or suggest stories. But the McNulty clan took this to a whole new level.

Family members traveled from far and wide to watch the taping and support Cresence. Adam (Cresence’s grandson) and his wife Sarah had prepared a magnificent feast, and children and adults alike conversed, laughed, ate, and played. Cresence’s children asked her to share stories during lunch, and I watched as her eyes light up when she recounted how she met her husband at a dance.

When it came time for the interview, Cresence was admittedly nervous. Talking about herself for two hours wasn’t something she was used to! But with her family gathered around her, eager to hear the experiences of her life, it wasn’t long before stories came pouring out of her. By the interview’s conclusion, she had done a 180 degree turn – from nervousness to infectious enthusiasm.

The shooting completed, her family celebrated with more food, swapping photos for the next hour. Children and grandchildren playfully named all the relatives in the black and white photos, and many of them learned unknown facts about great-uncles and aunts. All too often I heard someone exclaim, “I didn’t know you had that picture! Can I get a copy of that?”

Personal history is a vital, vibrant celebration. We are each unique, with our own private memories and novel experiences. Shakespeare once wrote “Who is it that says most, which can say more, / Than this rich praise, that you alone, are you?” Life is not common – and Cresence’s life proves that. She saw things, heard music, loved people, and lived through events that are worth capturing and certainly worth celebrating.

Photos and videos are important because they preserve these cherished memories, but equally as important are the new memories made when a family revisits the past. Cresence’s great-grandchildren will grow up remembering the day she told them about how a single, tentative kiss on a bridge led to four incredible generations.