It was thrilling but frightening to think I was going to be interviewed for a documentary. I’ve never done anything like that, and to be honest I’m camera shy.
Years ago, my husband Randy was doing TV spots for the Nissan dealership where he was GM, including a commercial from our home—a Christmas family ad. Jon was 7 and his brother Lance was 5. Jon had already done a commercial with his dad at the dealership, pointing to cars while Randy talked about them. But to create that Christmas filming, the camera crew was coming to our home. I dressed the boys in matching Christmas sweaters and I wore a red dress. Lance sat on my lap. The camera began to roll. I sat perfectly still, like a mannequin, afraid to blink. The director stopped the taping and pulled Randy aside whispered something to him. Randy came over to me and said, “Honey, you’re too stiff. You need to be more natural.”
While the documentary crew set up this week in my home, I replayed that Christmas scene in my mind, along with my fears of being interviewed for the camera. Things like, what if I get asked a question and my mind goes blank? Or what if I say something that doesn’t make sense—what if I say something and wish I hadn’t?
I had less than 24 hours to prepare for the shoot. I learned about the documentary from Ed, a Texas Gun Sense board member. He’d done an interview the day before and sent me an email asking if I was available for a short interview the next day. “They are doing an extensive look at gun violence in Texas,” he wrote. Ed told the documentary director that I’m an NRA member who teaches safe storage. “These guys are very good. The director is an Emmy winner and the producer works for Tribeca Films.”
I was more nervous than ever, but how could I pass up this opportunity? I would get my best chance so far to share Lock Arms for Life and talk about my life before and after Jon.
I set my conflicting feelings aside and made the call to the producer, Aidan, before I could chicken out. Like many people I now talk to, Aidan sounded young. But his voice put me at ease. He asked if it would be okay for them to film at my home. The Christmas disaster of years ago haunted me, but I agreed.
I felt like I was getting ready for a tennis match of a lifetime. But for some reason, I wasn’t as concerned about my appearance as I normally am. Maybe with age I’ve become easier on myself and my imperfections. And I wasn’t as nervous as on that day when Jon was on camera with me—even as I watched them set up the lights, hook on my microphone, and place my chair in front of the camera.
After three hours of speaking I could tell I was starting to get tired, even though I’d said I could go on for hours. I could tell my speech was beginning to ramble, and my train of thought was constantly drifting. We wrapped it up with talks of possibly meeting again.
Randy had come home from his morning round of golf and asked how everything went. “Okay, I guess.” That’s how I felt all day until about three in the morning when I suddenly woke thinking about all of the things I forgot to say or how I could have said something differently.
Doing things differently comes up a lot after you’ve lost someone to an gun accident. Telling the story of how the outcome could be different, with the right laws and safety education—that’s a better kind of different.