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Amherst man chronicles life stories

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 30, 2012 at 12:11 am •  Published: December 30, 2012

"One of the women told me that she can't remember the sound of her mother's voice. Now, her family will always have that. And when you're dying, you start physically looking terrible but you still have your voice," Neisner said. "She has the recording now and her family will always have it. She still finds it difficult to listen to, though, because it was a goodbye."

Neisner said that Lowen has exactly the kind of easy way to make his subjects feel comfortable.

"One woman said Ralph is facilitator, therapist and artist. He made it really easy for her to talk," she said.

Lowen has a standard list of questions he can use as a starting point, or to spur on the dialogue if it begins to drift away. Some include easy ones like: "What are you most proud of?" and "What is your best memory of childhood?" Others are more difficult, like "Do you think about dying?" and "Are you scared?" or "How do you imagine your death?"

Lowen hopes that the project will become widespread enough for him to seek grants and donations so he can train others to do the sessions and buy more equipment.

"Right now it's more important for me to be doing it than to make any money at doing it," he said, but noting that he is aware of his own mortality. "But, I'm getting older. I won't be able to do it forever and I'd like for it not to end with me."