I got a life story today. It was bound to happen. Halfway through the semester and really, it had to happen.
It was around 2:45 p.m. when I was finishing up my running and kayaking story, hoping to polish it before it ran for tomorrow’s paper. I had sent it off to Jeanne’s queue and settled in to start working on one of my other three stories for community. I had a checklist and I was determined to get through it.
“Hey Jennifer, are you working on anything?”
Now, this is a misleading question. Of course, if you’re in the newsroom, you’re going to be working on something. A few seconds of hesitation later, I had another assignment for GA.
My first instinct was one of dread. Consoling people during times of grief is not my strong suit, let alone calling up a stranger during a traumatic time for them and asking them to share their stories of the person with me over the phone.
But when I realized that the person I was writing about lived at Lenoir Woods Senior Community, I pretty much knew where to start. Friends in the newsroom also pointed me in the direction of one of the daughters, who works for the university and could be reached by email.
I tried both and waited to hear back. The receptionist at Lenoir said she had two people in mind and would pass along my information. The daughter emailed me back saying she had done the same.
My phone rang for the first person when I was halfway through my last run-through of the running and kayaking story.
The woman who I spoke with, though, eased my concerns and ended up being very willing to talk about her experiences and memories. She even told me a few anecdotes that made her laugh in reminiscence.
I will be calling the second in a couple minutes and hope to have a similar reporting experience. From what I can tell, this person led a full life of love and learning.