The journey began when my friend Robin, aware of my recent project with my father, asked for my help in bringing her father's memoir to print. The task was not just about editing and formatting; it was about weaving a tapestry of memories, stories, photos, and life lessons that spanned decades. As I delved into Dick's life story, I was struck by the richness of his experiences and the simplicity with which he approached life. His tales were not just narratives; they were windows into a life lived with passion, purpose, kindness, and compassion.
The deadline to present Dick with a proof copy was set for February 16th. That was the day Robin would come to Silver Lake to spend some time with her dad and their extended family. The date was aggressive, yet amidst the whirlwind of activity, there was a profound sense of purpose. The goal was not just to meet a deadline but to encapsulate a life's journey in the pages of a book. The process was meticulous, involving careful editing, thoughtful layout decisions, and a deep respect for the narrative we were entrusted to shape.
As planned, on February 16th, Robin, her husband Scott, and her dad pulled into my driveway and knocked on my front door. I invited them into my living room. I had seen the proof and loved it; however, what was most important was Robin and Dick’s response. I handed Robin the envelope containing the proofs. She took it out and held it in her hands. Her face was priceless as she handed copies to her dad and her husband. I watched Dick as he looked at the cover and marveled at how it had all come together. As he flipped through, I saw in Dick's eyes a reflection of his life's journey. There was a sparkle of nostalgia, a hint of pride, and a deep sense of satisfaction. As he flipped through the pages, his reactions were a mix of surprise, joy, and contemplation. The pages seemed to trigger a flood of memories, and his comments were not just about the content but about the life that had inspired it.
Robin, witnessing her father's reaction, was visibly moved. The memoir was not just a collection of stories; it was a bridge between generations, a legacy encapsulated in words.
Scott, who had experienced the work behind the scenes of writing a book, was clearly proud of his wife’s accomplishment.
The emotions in the room were palpable, a mixture of joy, gratitude, and a profound sense of accomplishment.
This experience came on the heels of my own memoir project with my father, that I delivered to my family on Christmas Day.* Seeing both my dad’s and Dick's reaction to their life story in print reminded me of the power of storytelling. Witnessing the delivery of proofs to family members reminded me of the impact of our lives on future generations They are not just books; they are vessels of legacy, carrying the essence of a life lived and lessons learned.
The process has inspired me to embark on my own memoir, drawing from over two decades of experience as a sexuality educator. As I turn 65 and lean into the legacy phase of my own life, my story needs to be written. The theme resonates deeply with me, not just as a professional but as an individual who has navigated the complexities of human sexuality and education. My memoir will not just be an account of my experiences; it will be a narrative filled with humor, insights, and the candid truths about what kids want to know about sex and growing up.
The task ahead is daunting yet exhilarating. I envision a memoir that is not just informative but engaging, a blend of personal anecdotes, professional insights, and the wisdom gleaned from years of educating young minds. It will be a journey into the heart of what it means to be a sexuality educator, the challenges faced, the questions pondered, and the impact made.
I am in the middle of selling my property. While packing, I came across a large tote box full of 3 by 5 cards held together with elastics. “Pure gold,” was all I could say as I remembered that these cards were questions that elementary, middle, and high school students had placed in my anonymous question box in each classroom. Over twenty years' worth of questions from countless puberty and sex ed classrooms! My sense is that these will not only serve as memory prompts and inspiration for my memoir but also serve as material for another valuable book for parents who struggle with having “the talk” with their kids.
As I reflect on my journey of writing blogs, stories, books, and, more recently, memoirs, I am struck by the unique power of this genre. Memoirs are more than just personal histories; they are a testament to the human experience, a celebration of individual journeys, and a gift to future generations. They remind us of our shared humanity, the diverse paths we tread, and the universal truths that bind us.
In the end, the joy of memoirs lies not just in the creation but in the sharing. It's about holding a life's story in your hands and realizing that every page is a reflection of a journey, a struggle, a triumph, and a legacy. As I embark on this journey of writing my own memoir, I carry with me the lessons learned, the joy witnessed, and the inspiration gleaned from lives well-lived.
*You can read my Christmas story in The Book on Abundance, which launches on Amazon on Tuesday, February 20th.