It has taken 'a village' to compile the memories which will fill the pages in between the covers. Now that I am 'this close', I can appreciate the journey I have travelled.
It is a good thing that I have notes to aid and abet my memory, for without them I was about to tell a whole different tale about the inception of this idea.
Apparently I thought this whole book idea was a pretty good one shortly after I had compiled my mom's family's book-of-memories. I mailed a copy of that book to my uncle, along with a letter asking him what he thought of the idea of doing the same for dad's side of the family.
That was in August, 2008. A month after that, my aunt and another one of Dad's brothers dropped off some information that my aunt had compiled (which was a most excellent start to my collection of family stories). Three months after that, I was off to visit my uncle in Ontario to officially begin the interview process.
This was followed by a group interview (spring 2009) with four of Dad's brothers who still lived in their 'home' town. Then, another interview with the family of Dad's oldest brother (spring 2010). When I started dragging my heels, I invented a Question of the Week ritual (summer 2010) to try and 'trick' the family into doing my job and writing the book for me.
Throughout this process, I decided to go back to school and change careers. I was motivated and goal oriented and my goal was to complete the first draft of Our Book before I went on an Alaskan Cruise in May, 2011. That goal was postponed indefinitely when the month that I had planned to work on the Book Project was invested in concern over Mom's health at that time.
The Book Project was all but
Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I pulled up my socks and reset my goals. I booked a holiday in the quietest and most peaceful (and affordable) resort known to me. My holiday within my own home in a Room With a Door gave me the gift of time that I needed to finally compile the first (very rough) draft of Our Book. I printed it off and sent it out into the world of my uncles for feedback, suggestions and edits.
Bit by bit, little by little, one small chapter at a time and a fair amount of time-wasting in between ... I have come to the present.
I have ... A Book.
It is still rough. It still has two chapters that need some work. There is much fine tuning to be done. But (for the most part) it is coming together.
Last night I dropped off one of my uncle's chapters for final approval. Tonight, I shall (attempt to) drop off some pictures and information I had borrowed from other family members and pick up the 'edits' on another uncle's chapter.
One word at a time, one memory at a time, one picture at a time, one interview or email or letter at a time ... the pieces of this puzzle are starting to come together and form a complete picture.
This 'picture' was elusive to me all the way through this process. I couldn't come up with a title. I couldn't come up with a book cover. I couldn't visualize this book in its completed form.
The title came but I was unsure. My son drew his visualization of what I told him about the roots of Dad's family. Bit by small bit, I took unsteady steps and was unsure of the ground beneath my feet.
The ground is feeling solid now. I like the way the title feels. I have a vision. I can touch and feel this book in my head and (almost) in my hands.
This book is nothing like I envisioned it six years ago.
Six years ago, I pictured a short little tale aided and abetted with a few pictures and the stories from Dad's brothers. Six years ago, I was afraid that it would be a carbon copy of my mom's family's story (since Mom and her sister married brothers and their two families are the largest families in both Mom and Dad's families, two of the central characters in the two books are identical). Six years ago, I honestly had NO idea how this would all come together.
Six years ago, I started out with hopes and dreams but I was without a vision. For the better part of five of those years, I wandered without a map. I enjoyed the journey but the destination was so far off ...
Six years ago, I had no idea how the entire family would become involved and an integral part of telling our story. This book is flavored and seasoned by so many. The biggest gift of all is what I have received by not rushing the process.
The characters within Our Story have become alive and well in my mind. I feel gentle nudges and whispers in my mind and guidance to tell the story of those who cannot tell it themselves with (hopefully) kindness and compassion.
This entire book-writing, memory-compiling process has been a gift unlike any other.
As I work my way towards the end and add the final touches and edits to our tale, I know that I have made a friend. A friend within those who have lived in a time long ago and will outlive me on the pages of this book.