Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Birthday Celebration

It's been over 6 months since I last posted anything.  Family things happened.  Illnesses and accidents  happened. There has been sadness and there has been joy.  I'd like to spend some time on some of the joy.

daddy at 90
My dad's 90th birthday was Christmas eve.  Since he lives in Seattle, we don't often get to celebrate his birthday with him, not wanting to leave our grandchildren.  But a 90th birthday seemed to be a pretty special deal and one we couldn't miss.

What do you get someone turning 90 who has everything he needs or wants?  I decided to make a book for him about his life.  I have boxes and folders filled with old newspaper articles, letters, photos, and family history.  They're not organized very well, so it took a lot of digging.  My house was turned over to this project for a couple of months in the fall. 

Trying to figure out how to approach telling his story gave me a new appreciation for people who write biographies!  So many decisions have to be made. And I had to be realistic about the time frame I had to work with - I should have begun this  a year ago when I first thought about doing this.

I bought a spiral bound sketch book, about 8 1/2 by 11".  I decided to hand write the story, beginning with a title that would give me some lea way:  "An Incomplete, Significantly Biased Chronicle of the Remarkable Life of Morten Thornton Beck Joslin".  That way, I couldn't be accused of leaving things out, reporting my own point of view, etc.  I realize that everyone who knows him could have experienced the same event and come up with a different take on it.

His grandparents had come from various parts of this country and other countries - so the question began to take shape - how did they all arrive in such a place as to make it possible for him to be born?  And then there was all the moving around that he did over his lifetime, between the military service, college, job.  I learned so much about the family in doing this. 

It became apparent that I couldn't keep it a secret since I wanted to include as much accurate information as I could and much of that was only known to him.  What a memory he has! He gave me so many details that at times I couldn't write fast enough. 

I left empty pages throughout the book so that he, mom, my brother or sister could add stories that I had not put in.  And I copied lots of photos, as many as the book would hold, to accompany the narratives throughout.

He was thrilled.  I was so excited to have been able to do this for him.  And we will copy it for our kids and grandchildren so they will have a better sense of this man whom many of them will not have a chance to know as well as he or they would like. 

My mom's 90th is coming up in another year - I should start working on that soon!

Have you thought of writing down your own stories?  Or those of family members?