Where has the summer gone? We've been afflicted with TBTB Syndrome (Too Busy to Blog), but we're not really complaining. We've been working on some terrific book projects in the last few months.
Sometimes a project will come along that affects us deeply, that reminds us yet again why we do this. Working closely with families to preserve their stories gives us a window into family dynamics--sometimes poignant, often hilarious. Each family has their own special dance to which only they know the steps.
This project started with a wish and a plan. Our client (Susan), one day, overheard her husband's aunt wish that the family could all get together before she passed. Susan decided to put together a reunion for her husband's family, and to do a tribute book about her husband's grandparents. How hard could it be?
Gathering stories from family members proved harder than she anticipated, with everyone's busy schedules. Emails received little response, and phone calls--well, crickets. Susan and I decided to go ahead with what we had to create the book, which were some great photos and diaries/short personal histories the grandparents had written before they passed. We did some editing of the material and I created a first draft of the book, sending it to Susan in electronic form for proofing.
Susan decided to forward this draft to all the family members to get their feedback. An amazing thing occurred: suddenly she was flooded with responses to the emails she had been sending for months! Just seeing the draft of the book, the family had finally caught the vision. Children and grandchildren of the couple sent memories and stories and dug through drawers to find more photographs. We scrambled to add the new material, which doubled the size of the book, before the printing deadline. A couple of weeks later were ready to print.
A Family Re-Union
Here's the best part of this story. Susan and her husband had been estranged from one of their daughters for quite a while. "She hasn't spoken to me for two years," Susan lamented. But when her daughter received the draft version of the book, "she loved it so much that she called me and we talked for three hours." Not only that, but the daughter came to stay at their home for a week while attending the reunion. "This book has been a miracle in our family," she said.
It was one of those moments we cherish above all--we sit with a client who has become a friend, and we embrace and weep and laugh with them. We are reminded of the power of stories, and the power of love. And we are so grateful.
Stay tuned for The Healing Power of Family Stories Part Two-- a tribute book for a remarkable man taken before his time.
See photos of the family reunion book below.