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Baby Showers


 
I’ve known for months that there was going to be this baby shower in Chicago. I didn’t R.S.V.P. and kept putting it off because I wanted to get there. I didn’t know how I was going to get there. So much going on between Grant and me driving back from the farm in Oklahoma before July, Ame’s Birthday, Ame’s Partner moving from Australia to Seattle and being supportive as I can for their transitions. And everything else that goes along with an active and full life.
 
But I did want to support Lia, my friend who is going to be a first-time Grandmother to her daughter and to Monica who is going to be a first-time Mother. And then twelves days before this event, my cousin’s wife took a turn in the wrong direction and died. This story is long and sad, so we'll leave it for another time. Now, it’s about making the impossible, possible. When Aunt Mary Jane told me Joyce had passed, I knew I had to go to The Memorial. That was that. I didn’t remember what time the Baby Shower was. It was 11:00 to 2:00 in Lincoln Park, downtown Chicago. Could I go to The Shower and The Memorial? Well yes, I did. I showed up fifteen minutes before arrival time to find the party in full swing. I had ninety minutes to give my all to the shower, and I did. Meeting people, great talks with Lia and her kids. I congratulated Monica and gave her hugs and my excitement since I loved being a Mom, even though it was exhausting.
 
A bunch of us went up to the rooftop and took in the breathtaking view of the city, Lincoln Park, and Lake Michigan.
 
So much fun to celebrate the beginning of a new life.
 
One of my talks was with Martha. She’s a Doctor and a Mother to a son who is sixteen months old. She was telling me what she did, and I was telling her what I did. She asked me if it was too late to get memories of her son in a book? She feels guilty because she hasn’t had the time to write diligently in a journal or on a calendar. I said, "she can capture those memories anytime." I told her what I did for my Grandson when he turned one. I had everyone in the family write something unique they found about him and experienced with him in his first year of life. That’s the book. But I told Martha it could be even easier. I said talk into a recorder and record your thoughts. I can do the rest. I encouraged her that she writes professional notes in this manner and she can do this for her son as well. She remarked how accessible this is and "What a fantastic service!"
 
Accessible. Yes, capturing your stories is accessible. That’s what I want more than anything. To know whoever you are, no matter how busy your life is, it is easy to get your stories and put them in books.
 
What a fabulous baby shower. Moments like these can easily be accessed anytime and remembered when they are in a thin, easy-to- read, easy-to- find book which contains our Write Heart Memories® that inspire, motivate and affirm the truth of who we are.
 
Thank-you for reading this blog. Please share it with others who might benefit from it.
 
#bethlord

#yourthinbooksrock

#writeheartmemories

#yourpersonalhistorian

 



Birthdays


What a great way to say you love someone by putting together a birthday book of their memorable stories for that year or decade. This book can be of your own doing, or you can invite other people storytelling about that person and have it be a quilt of captured stories from individuals who know and love this person. Whatever way you go, it’s a gift that provides inspiration, motivation, and affirmations to the celebration of this unique individual.
 
My middle daughter, Ame turned thirty while I was in Chicago because of my cousin’s wife’s memorial. I didn’t have any choice if I was going to go to the memorial. Ame was quite alright with this because we had celebrated on the Friday before my red-eye to Chicago.
 
I took it as a positive sign that I was up North my last night in Chicago which happened to be Ame’s birthday. I was up with The Zemtseff clan, so Glen, Mom, Linda and I sang Happy Birthday to Ame. And then we drove by our old house where she was born thirty years ago. I wrote a short story that will be the ending of her birthday book. The previous pages will contain stories about her twenties so she can look back on them with fondness as she grows in further joy and awareness in her thirties.
 
This story is what I sent to her:
 
“The right upper window as you look at the house is where Katie slept. The left upper window ran the full length of the house, and that was The Master Bedroom where you were born.
 
The day before we helped your Aunt Ginny and Uncle Gary pack to start their new lives in LA. We came home to a full moon doubled, and my labor started about 1:00 or so.
 
Gramma and Grandpa came to take Katie while Fred, the Doctor, and Martha, The Midwife came to help me deliver you. You were born about 8:30 in summer sunshine as the softball field behind us came alive with the sounds of children’s shouts, screams, cheers and the ball hitting the bat.
 
I swaddled you and was so excited to have you. Gramma and Grampa brought Katie back soon after to meet you. She was so excited to hold you.
 
Katie, confidently said she knew you were going to be a girl. I asked, ‘why?’, and Katie said, ‘because I asked God to bring me a sister every night.’
 
You are so loved Amelia Bedelia. Forever and ever.

Happy Thirty Years Old.

May this new decade bring you joy and happiness you have yet to experience.”
 
Thank-you for reading this blog.
 
#bethlord

#yourthinbooksrock

#writeheartmemories

#yourpersonalhistorian
 



Graduations


 
About a week ago, the high school that is right near me had graduation night. It brought me back to when Ame graduated from high school. It brought me back to the same year when Sam, my youngest, graduated from eighth grade. We think we remember these events. We don’t. It was 2006, and my mother came out for these two graduations, and Paul’s father and mother came out too. Mom passed away in 2008 and Dad died in 2010. Memories are all over the place, aren’t they? Why not gather that poem or those thoughts from you, your graduate and others so that it’s in a thin, easy-to- read book that can be fully remembered by family and the graduate.
 
I look at the letter I wrote to Ame for this high school graduation. There’s a lovely description of what is going on during this day. My Mom is still sleeping; Grandpa has written his poem and given it to Ame already. The family will celebrate at our favorite go-to- Italian Restaurant, Marcello's that is no longer. The party for all of Ame's friends and Sam's friends will be over the weekend.
 
I cringe as I read this letter because my grammar is awful. Did I give this to my daughter this way?
 
But I remember, I remember I was working two full-time jobs trying to help my children through private school and college. I was also working hard so Grant, my husband, could rebuild our home. I remember during this timeframe, I was on "fight and flight" and completely on overload.
 
I smile at the past me. I survived this phase of my life, and now I long for it back. The jokes on me sometimes and I have to laugh. I wanted to write, and here I am writing. Depending on Grammarly to help me with grammar. It’s part of my tools, and I don’t think any less of myself. Back then writing was only a dream, and I was frustrated I could not write.
 
Even though Ame might have saved the original letter, I will put this letter through Grammarly so I can make the necessary corrections. And yes, I think I'll make a book for her that sums up her eighth grade, high school, and college graduations.
 
Meanwhile, my niece graduated this year from high school and is going on to college to get her nursing degree. And her sister graduated from a community college with an Associate’s Degree.
 
Will their stories be captured in a book to be remembered when someone reads the book years from now? Who knows if that will happen, but hopefully, someone will capture their stories.
 
Thank-you for reading this blog.
 
#bethlord

#yourthinbooksrock

#writeheartmemories

#yourpersonalhistorian
 



Being A Traveling Personal Historian For You


So last Friday night I was hoping for some sleep onboard the red-eye to Chicago which did not happen. Stopped at Starbucks to sit down and collect me with a cup of tea and egg, went to the restroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, rented my car and drove to my Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Bob's house where I could relax because this was my destination. It was going to be a full day today and tomorrow in seeing my brother and his family because they were going to Michigan for his daughter’s orientation to college, Lia’s daughter’s baby shower, and my cousin’s wife’s memorial.
 
You know how it is when you see family relatives. It's just nice to be in the presence of people you haven't seen for four to six months especially when we’re getting older, and we don’t know whose funeral might be next.
 
And then my brother Paul came in from Dallas, and he hung out with us for a while until he went on to see my brother Curt and Helen and their kids.
 
Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Bob went out to eat lunch with me. Afterward, I laid down on their Davenport and slept. I wrote bills and put it in the mailbox before their postman came. I talked with them until mid-afternoon and drove thirty miles to see Curt and Helen and their kids and talk some more over dinner.
 
I then went to Tami and Jim’s home (longtime friends) where I would park myself till Monday night. Stayed up till midnight talking to Tami. Woke up early so I could visit with them and get myself down to Lincoln Park where the baby shower is. And then avoid traffic driving back to Palos Heights on the south side so I could spend the rest of the afternoon at my cousin’s wife's Memorial.
 
I went back to Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Bob’s and then drove back to Hinsdale. Tami and Jim were sitting out front of their house having ice tea. I joined them and then we had a lovely grilled Turkey breast dinner and talked the night away.
 
Early Monday morning, way behind on my content to give to my website designer I sent him an email. His response was that he doesn’t see how I can do what I do traveling the way I do. He said it requires willpower and discipline. When I responded back to him, he thought my response should be a blog and so here it is:
 
“I'll get blogs to you sometime this week and the other items but I'm rebuilding my infrastructure of the organization of transcribing, editing and formatting stories people give me, and that feels great. This structure I’m creating keeps me flexible and on track. I know July is going to be a good month. As a woman, as a female business owner believing in connection personally and professionally I have to be lean and streamlined so I can travel to support my husband who is on his farm in Oklahoma. I go to Chicago to support my family there. I go the Camino de Santiago because that keeps me honest and truthful. I travel when people want me to record at an event they’re having so I must be flexible and understand what I have to do to get a great story from people and put it in a book form for them in one to three months.
 
I do what I do because of connection, facing my fears and learning. The last time I stayed in Chicago with Tami was last fall. I see, feel and know how much I've grown and changed. How much the company is growing and changing. Long
 
talks with Tami, seeing my older relatives that may not be here further down the road and connecting to my hometown where I grew up makes travel worthwhile. Yesterday, Tami and I went out for lunch. We had many great talks, and she’s spreading the word about my company because she loves my concept. What she loves about it is that you can stick the book in a suitcase and bring it somewhere to show someone. You can't do that with a scrapbook. She emphasizes that I need to stress that people simply talk to me or record their stories and I do the rest. And the rest of the story takes a long time to do whether it is a thin book or not. And it's nice knowing that reordering is always available. Tami says she would never have had this kind of courage to see this company to a robust and healthy beginning as I have done. Does it get any better than that? Your best friend, a financial whiz in banking, whom you’ve known since you were four, loving and supporting what you’re doing.
 
I called Stephany's Mom for a further recording time, and that will be next week when Stephany is with her. But, I managed to tape the conversation ten minutes into it and got some great stories. Imagine, if you will, their family took Canoe trips down The Current River in Missouri and brought their priest along with them so he could say Mass, and they didn't have to stop the boats. Isn't that wild?
 
And by the way, privacy is also protected and respected so that the person does know they are being recorded.
 
What a great image to share with people. I've never met this woman, but we have become friends. She's foggy from chemo and radiation and gets frustrated with her memories. She thought the process of memories and writing should be painful and take a long time. Au Contraire, I say, it should be fun and free. You talk, and I do the rest.
 
And I close my email to Najee by saying, ‘Do you remember how I was when you first met me almost two years ago? I guess it's true; storytelling provides growth and healing because I continue to experience this within myself. ‘ ”
 



Finding Dad In His Letters


 
Dear Beth
 
Even though I just talked to you by phone yesterday, I thought I would surprise you, by also writing this letter. By now, your first day of classes as a college student are behind you, and I do hope that the experience was as exciting as you expected.
 
I only ask one favor of you now. Do your best in each class, do your best with your homework assignments, but also do not forget yourself in that you also need recreation. Do not allow if at all possible, yourself to become frustrated. I know this is easier said than done.
 
I have found, over the years, that when I become frustrated with an assignment or do not feel comfortable with the work product, I set it aside and I go on to something else. Whether it be a cup of coffee and light discussion with staff or going for a walk, I have a fresh outlook and a new desire to complete it when I come back. The work produced is far superior to what would have been if I had completed it when frustrated.
 
I loved my Dad’s handwriting, the way he cupped his hands together and laughed a full belly laugh, or how he pushed his glasses back onto his nose. He had false teeth because his teeth had been destroyed at an earlier age in a motorcycle accident. I loved sneaking into my parent’s bathroom and watching him brush his false teeth. He was diligent in cleaning them. The uppers and then lowers. I was flabbergasted and curious as to how they might work in his mouth. Once or twice, maybe more than that, he would scare me with his toothless grin. We both seemed to laugh at that.
 
I knew my Dad. And I never knew my Dad. My parents divorced when I was a freshman in high school. He got married again rather quickly, and that didn’t work out so well. He got divorced from her and then married his third and last wife when I was a junior in college. Dad and I had our best talks on the phone, and they always brought us closer together.
 
In your case, the outlet may be a run to the student union, grab food with your friends, go to a show or what have you. If you think it might work for you, try it, and this possibility may gain a lot for you.
 
I guess what I’m saying honey is that all your assignments will be completed faster and more accurately if they are done when you are fresh, not under pressure and not frustrated. As you know, I had the boys yesterday. We did not do much but enjoy each other.
 
Boys need their Dad, as much as daughters. The divorce devastatingly hit all four children. The screams and fighting when Mom and Dad were married were nightmarish, but we also knew we were a family.
 
My parents couldn’t have children, so they adopted my older sister Linda. I came along sixteen months later naturally. Next was my brother who was born on my Dad’s birthday and died three months later. I had two other brothers born after Donnie died. Family Secrets and family pain. My parents never got counseling for Donnie’s death because that was unheard of in those days. But I am sure, they both blamed themselves for his death. They drank to forget this pain. And this pain drove a wedge between all of us.
 
Dad goes on to say in his letter that he and the boys saw my grandparents, played miniature golf and ate at The Ground Round which used to be one of my favorite restaurants in Oak Brook.
 
It ‘s hard to read his writing; tightly controlled, scrunched in letters that make the legibility of it difficult. My perception now is geared towards text and keyboard writing that is easily read. Certainly, Dad’s letter written on his handsome business stationary is beautiful even if I have a hard time reading it.
 
Dad. I miss Dad. I miss you. I close my eyes and see him in all his glory. We had great talks whenever he called me. One time, I was pregnant with my first and expecting any minute when Dad called, It was on a Sunday night, and he said, “I think you’re going to have the baby tonight.” I said, “Dad, my due date isn’t until next week.” But Dad was quite confident that I would have it that night. Sure enough, the minute I hung up from him, I started having labor and Katie, my oldest, was born, right after midnight.
 
Dad goes on to tell me in the letter that Uncle Chuck is doing better. Uncle Chuck is one of Dad’s old friends from high school. He’s a professional photographer with a wife and young kids. They moved away from Chicago and bought a home right on Lake Springfield in Springfield, Illinois. We’d visit the family, and I loved the thought of having a home there. Everyone knew Uncle Chuck had cancer. Dad says in this letter that he is doing better, but he did not do better. In fact, he died.
 
Dad himself died of cancer fifteen years later when he was sixty, and I was thirty-three.
 
Dad goes on in the letter to say he loves me and misses me. He says he’s happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished. He includes a check in the letter for me to have fun and will deposit money into my bank account for my living expenses. We decided I wouldn’t work the first year of college.
 
All my love,

Dad
 

I love this letter, even though I can’t read all of it. It brings up many sad and beautiful memories that make up the whole. I don’t know many stories of my Dad other than the ones I know and my assumptions about him. I’d like to know some more of Dad’s stories; maybe they would give me a greater context around Dad.
 
It would be heartwarming to see Dad in person ~ see his smile, hear his laugh and hug him. I’d look at him, and he’d look at me. I know darn well he’d be proud of all that I’ve accomplished and all that I am. And for me, I’d love to put my arms around him and give him a big hug and say, “Dad, I’m just as proud of you. Thank-you for being the best Dad you could be for me. I love you. I appreciate you. And I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

 
What stories did we capture with my Dad’s letter?
 

  • He wanted to surprise me with written correspondence, give me support and a little bit extra money for my first few weeks as a freshman in college.
  •  

  • Do your best at whatever you’re doing and don’t get frustrated with yourself. If you’re working on a project and it’s frustrating, take a break from it. When you come back to it, the project will be easier and far superior to if you had just plugged along to get it done.
  •  

  • Past letters help us remember behaviors and mannerisms of someone we loved. I loved my Dad’s laugh and his false teeth. If I close my eyes and remember these characteristics about my Dad, I remember his love.
  •  

  • Families survive even with divorce, death, and pain. That in the end, all we have is the love and care we give to one another. I wish I knew more of Dad’s stories. I wish he was here so I could give him a great big hug and tell him how much I love and appreciate him. And thank him for being the best parent he knew how to be.
  •  

  • Dad gave me all his love. I wish, now more than ever, I could return this love to him.

 

Thank-You

Beth