Rebecca Roose lives in Washington, D.C., but is still very close with her family. They include parents Dick and Melinda Roose of Milford and grandmother Norma, who lives in North Webster. While she was growing up, Rebecca would talk with her grandmother about what Norma’s life had been like. In particular, Rebecca was intrigued by how her grandmother had coped with the sudden death of her grandfather in 1972.
A fan of National Public Radio, Rebecca enjoys listening to the stories of meaningful moments in people’s lives featured in a regular segment provided by the national nonprofit organization StoryCorps. She knew StoryCorps solicits pairs of family members and friends to record their conversations about various everyday topics with the show, which is done by recording one of the parties interviewing the other at permanent or temporary booths set up for that purpose in New York and around the country.
“They’re personal stories of joy, of grief, times that a relationship was tested,” Rebecca said. “It’s really meant to be a snapshot of Americana.”
“I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to have my grandma do this,” she continued. “When I heard that they were going to set up a booth in Indianapolis I thought, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do’.”
Norma agreed to participate. Rebecca flew home last week and picked her up, and Wednesday the two conversed all the way to Indianapolis – but still found they had plenty to talk about during the 40-minute session.
“It was kind of exciting,” Norma recalled. “She was across the table from me, and I looked at her and we just talked.”
Rebecca’s questions for her grandmother centered around Norma’s grieving process after her husband, Robert Roose, died suddenly in 1972. In addition to the loss, that event forced Norma into the workplace full-time for the first time in her life.
“He died before I was born, so I’ve only seen her as a strong, independent widow,” Rebecca said. “But as I got older I started to wonder what it was like for her to lose her husband, and how she coped. For me, it was that I wanted to know the answers to some of those questions.”
Looking back, both see how that event challenged Norma, but also how it opened doors to new and pleasant experiences and how it allowed her to pursue interests that had fallen by wayside as the couple raised their family.
They both laughed and cried during the session, which was observed by a facilitator.
A copy of the interview is given to participants. Rebecca said they were then offered the option of having a copy of the recording archived in the Library of Congress, and of allowing StoryCorps to air the conversation and possibly publish it in written form as it has done with other stories in the past.
“It could be two weeks or it could be two years (before they use it.) But the nice thing is, before they use it we’ll get a call and get a copy of the printout, or we can listen to how they’re going to use it,” Rebecca said.
Aside from its public use, she added the opportunity to have a CD of the interview grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to listen to was a great resource for her family.
Norma agreed but expressed an additional sentiment as well.
“For me, I was just really touched that Rebecca would take the time to do this and that she would think of me for it,” Norma said.