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Life Lessons
Produced and Directed by Douglas Morrow for D.A.M. Video Inc.

I have always considered myself a lucky guy. Born in 1958, the son of Ann Starrett Morrow and David Copeland Morrow, I lived a Huck Finn- type youth on Eastern Long Island. In 1967, my dad passed away, and while that seems pretty unlucky at first, I was lucky in the fact that I was old enough to have him in many of my memories. I remember his smile, his haircut, and his walk. I remember having dinner with him, playing games with him, and driving with him. I learned many valuable things from him – like being able to take a joke, to appreciate all types of people, to enjoy jazz and blues; and to plant trees. I wish I’d had time to learn more from him.

In 1969, my mom remarried, and I became the son of Theodore Peter Pavlonis, who raised me through my teenage years. He was the smartest man I’ve ever met. He taught me to fish, to read for enjoyment, and to always appreciate the other person’s opinion. He taught me to never correct someone unless it was really necessary, and to be a good listener when involved in conversation. He taught me that being a good husband and father were the most important things in his life. He was always there with his support, kindness, and ideas. Theodore Peter Pavlonis died in 2002 after being my dad for over 33 years. He taught me that death was a part of life and that life was a gift.

In 2002, I helped my dad to his death; he chose hospice for his care, and I was able to be actively involved. In reflecting upon my dad’s death, I realized that this was the time when I truly grew up. As sad as I was about the loss of my father and best friend, I realized how lucky I was to have many of his treasured lessons and thoughts in my heart and mind. I was very lucky to be there with him and with my Mom and family to celebrate his life as he passed.

As I spent over more than a year constantly thinking about our friendship and these many lessons, I began to realize how important it could be to interview people regarding their most valued life lessons and what it would be like to share them.

My hypothesis remains a simple one: Many people have a series of lessons and values they’ve learned and pass along from being part of a family and from their paths in life. I also believe that people from a wide range of cultures and ethnic backgrounds share many core lessons. My dad use to say, it is very important to travel because you always see how people are different, but more important, you see how people are alike.

Life Lessons will be a series of interviews produced about and focused around the senior citizen population. The interviewees will contain a knowledge base of approximately five generations. The interviews will be based on reflections by these people that include their memories and thoughts regarding their grandparents and parents, and will continue on to include perspectives on their own and their children’s lives, as well as their grandchildren’s lives. I will work with a diverse ethnic/cultural population to gain added perspective. Questions will be answered on a range of topics for inclusion in two video formats with the focus being the sharing of life experiences in lessons and stories. The first video format will be individual filler pieces, each interview being edited down to a few minutes’ stand-alone segment featuring the individual’s life and perspective. The second will be a larger documentary-style piece that will include many participants (participants from the shorter pieces) and will weave the many lessons, stories, and perspectives into a cohesive larger work. These pieces will thread together between the interviews for a broader perspective.

Questions will include the following:
  • Name and Nationality (ethnic background)
  • Career choice
  • How and why you picked your partner?
  • Family size–Your role, and number of children, and grandchildren?
  • Most important lesson(s) your grandparents taught you
  • Most important lesson(s) your parents taught you
  • Most important lesson(s) you tried to teach your children
  • Favorite hobbies
  • Favorite song and why
  • Favorite poem and why
  • Favorite story
  • Favorite joke
  • Favorite place you’ve ever visited
  • What has changed in your life for the better?
  • What has changed in your life for the worse?
  • What would you like to be remembered for?
  • A lesson you would like to share with your neighbors
  • What do you consider the key to your happiness?
I continue to share time with my wonderful mom, and she continues to share life lessons with me…

Initial tapings are underway. Please check the web site for updates and clips. If you have a Life Lesson you’d like to share, you are welcome to send in to dam@damvideo.com

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