Honoring my mom with a Last Soundtrack

Joe Cannon, Founder My Last Soundtrack

I am writing this blog post to share the process I used to develop a Last Soundtrack to honor my mom, who died almost 20 years ago.

As we launch My Last Soundtrack, the founders (Carl, Sue and I) think a few different groups might find the site useful. One group includes people who want to create a legacy page for themselves. They want to have more control over the story of their life and how they will be viewed after they are gone. They have gifts they want to share with friends and family—favorite songs, recipes, poems, stories, wisdom, and more—and future generations. These folks may want to save grieving loved ones the trouble of gathering stories, photos, and music that reflect their life. They may also see their Last Soundtrack as a way to help friends and family grieve.

A second group is people who want to start a conversation with parents, relatives, or friends who may be at a stage where time in this life is more limited. My father is in his 80s and I know it is a difficult conversation to have about how he wants his life celebrated and how he wants to be remembered after he is gone. I think that My Last Soundtrack will facilitate a difficult but important discussion. By framing the talk around developing a Last Soundtrack, we think it will be easier to ask some of these questions and find out answers before they are sick or gone.

A third group includes those seeking to honor someone who has already died. That is the case for my mother – Roseanne Cannon. My mother left this world more than 18 years ago. I miss my mom and part of the motivation for creating My Last Soundtrack was to build a site where I could honor her legacy and share her life with friends and family—especially my kids, who were very young when she died. This is also a way I can share my mom’s gifts with her grandchildren and (someday) great grandchildren. Finally, I see the Soundtrack as a living document. In the Soundtrack, I ask readers to share a story with me, so I can add that to the site.

In creating the site, I tried to put myself in my mom’s head while creating the site. What photos would she want to share? What stories should we (friends and family) tell about her life? What would she want to share with future generations? Who was Roseanne Cannon?

If you are thinking about creating a site for yourself or a loved one, maybe you will find it helpful to see how I went about creating this one for my mom.

  1. The first step was to gather some ideas and stories. I started by emailing my brothers and asking them to each write a story about mom. I also asked my dad what music mom liked. Talked to my wife about my mom, too.
  2. The stories part was kind of easy. I thought about who my mom was – and what she was most proud of and would want to share. I remembered how every year she made hundreds of “Peanut Butter Balls” (cookies) and sent them out to her kids and shared them with friends. I found her recipe and put it on the site. I shared my memories and my brothers shared theirs. The site asks others to share their stories, which I hope to add later.
  3. I pulled out old photos. We have boxes of photos. My mom died before digital photography – so all the pictures were prints. Fortunately, Google (of course) has created a great app to convert print photos (or I used it on cards I found, too) to digital images – see Google PhotoScan. I sorted them into piles and eventually selected about 25 for use in the slide show.
  4. The site lets you put photos in with the stories. Many of the pictures were from my collection, but when my brother Pat told a story about baseball, I just used Google images to find a picture of a baseball to pair with the story. And I also found the peanut butter balls image online.
  5. Music was tricky. I cannot remember my mother’s musical favorites—I only know she did not like Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd (she told me to turn them down a lot). So I used a few sites (this one is easy) to identify the #1 hits on the day she was born, when she was in high school, etc. My dad mentioned an Al Hirt concert. I also knew she liked Catholic music and the Cubs.
  6. When I felt pretty good about it, I published her Last Soundtrack and shared it on Facebook. Friends and family enjoyed the memories of my mom.
  7. I hope to keep on building it over the next months and years. One great thing about My Last Soundtrack, if you want to add more stories, photos, or music, you can at any time.  

I put my mom’s Last Soundtrack together over parts of a few different days. The My Last Soundtrack application makes it easy to put together a great memorial after you gather your shareables, photos, and music. So go ahead and build a Last Soundtrack to honor a loved one you have lost.

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