Robert B. Ferguson, Jr. F.D., OwnerTis the time and season for many who honor the cherished memories of past loved ones by venturing out to burial sites to pay their respects. As is tradition, visiting a cemetery, cleaning tombstones, planting flowers, and offering a prayer allows for one to reminisce of happy times of a bygone era. It is the stories and afterthoughts of a dearly departed parent, grandparent, spouse, child, grandchild, or even friend that causes us to pause and remember. The shedding of a tear or utterance of a pleasant smile results from that vivid memory or noteworthy story.


So how do we pass on those eternal memories, as we grow old and age with the passing of time? Sure, there are the physical remnant s, the granite monuments, the favorite pet’s burial site, a roadside memorial cross, or even a peaceful and serene scattering location of cremains. But the questions still lingers, “How will the stories and memories go on and on?”


Years ago, it was a given fact as to the mode of transmission. We all participated in grandma’s story hour next to her spindle rocking chair, sat on grandpa’s knee, rocked on great uncle’s back porch wicker swing, or took part in Sunday afternoon family discussions and car rides through the countryside as certain stories were told over and over and over again.


The lives of our youth are different now and are much more time consumed and hurried. As for the upcoming generation, story telling on the back porch swing or in front of a burning fireplace are things of the past, as are cemetery visits and family reunion story hours.


What confronts us is the emergence of the electronic age that presents the best opportunity to preserve the archives of our heritage. We as the storytellers must now adjust, change, and adapt to a new mode of transmission.


Photos must be digitized, emailed, pasted, transcribed, and forwarded to reach the youth of today. The stories, old 8 and 16 mm home movies, and eternal memories compiled into DVD and video documentaries are crucial if we want to continue the tradition. Titanium indestructible metal medallion discs will be encoded with text and pictures so that history can be scanned and downloaded onto PDA’s and laptop computers. Only then can the story telling survive another generation.


The key to capturing the ears, eyes, and minds of future storytellers is found in the ability to adapt, keep pace, and translate the past via a new mode and model of that old wicker porch.


Rob Ferguson is a PA licensed funeral director and past president of the Westmoreland-Indiana-Armstrong County Funeral Directors Association. He can be reached at