Finally, after nearly 13 years of book-writing silence, I have just published a book!
Okay, so it's not that kind of book.
But it may be one of the best books I've produced and I hope its target readership agrees.
Last summer, as our family lazed on the Wildwood Crest beach, I told a story about my grandmother. Nothing special, just a snippet from the myriad memories that tumble around in my mind.
My older daughter commented that she'd never heard that story and then proceeded to admonish me (gently, of course) for not sharing tidbits like that with the family. After all, she didn't say, but I heard, Mom isn't going to be around forever and then who will know these things? Who will go through the boxes of photos, some faded and torn, and know who was in them?
That's when the idea came and on Friday, the result was in my mail.
I gathered photos from those bottomless boxes, selected from an old autobiography that lies fallow and incomplete on my hard drive, did some research and found blurb.com, selected a template and created "Where Did We Come From?" to gift my grandchildren and my daughters with a brief look into their ancestry.
While the book is 22 pages long, it could easily have been doubled if the cost had not been prohibitive. There are still many, many photos for them to look at some far-off day. I will have to deal with the pictures perhaps one cold, blustery winter night as I take on the next project... scanning, naming and cataloguing them all. Sadly, by the time I got custody of the photos, there was no one left to tell me who many of the folks who peopled them might have been. Many contain men and women who were directly related to my grandfather. They will wind up forever unidentified.
But the 22 pages of the book I created contains enough information to serve as a start on my effort to leave the kids a picture of their ancestors... the men and women I knew as integral parts of my life.
So even if the photos are a bit blurry or worn with decades of being shuffled from one album to another, from one box to another, I was able to tell them about my wonderful grandparents, my mom and dad and some of my own history. It's what I wish I had been given by my parents.
How silly we are, those of us who have a rich mine of photos or written histories, not to sit our grandparents and parents down, grab an iPad or iPhone or any of the amazing recording devices we have at our disposal and ask them to talk about their childhoods, their memories. Not only would we have a lasting record of their pasts but we would have the joy of hearing their voices and seeing their smiles long after they are gone.
It's too late for me to do any of that, so I did what I could. I hope that, even though there may be little interest in the book now, my grandchildren will some day dig it out from their put-away treasures and share it with their children.
That's what it was created for. That's what I wish for it.