Everyone is Worth Remembering
by John A. Velke III
I am not an expert on grief. In fact, what little I know comes from
personal experience and surfing through some of the on-line websites devoted
to the topic. A little more than a year ago I lost my father to cancer, and
although death did not sneak up on him and take him by surprise, his passing
made me contemplate my own mortality, and more importantly, it caused me to
reflect on the many ways my father influenced me. It did not take me long to
realize that once I was gone some of the memories I had of him would be lost
unless I wrote them down.
I left home and went out on my own when I was still a teenager. Like
many teenagers, I thought I was a man before my time. I remember thinking
that I could "do better" than my father by earning more money, having more
things, and going more places. I chased my version of the "American Dream,"
first moving 30 minutes away, then 5 hours away, then 12 hours away, and
finally to the opposite coast. I stayed in touch with my father by talking
to him every month or two and by visiting with him once or twice a year.
Our relationship was not bad. I always looked up to my father and I
never doubted that he was proud of how I turned out. My calls and visits
with him increased in frequency during his last year and I was blessed with
the opportunity to spend his last father's day with him. I told him all the
things I wanted him to hear and nothing was left unsaid. I think I told him
that I loved him more times in his last year than in all the years before.
But when he died, he left a void. His obituary summarized his many
accomplishments and mentioned those of us he left behind, but it fell short
in one respect. It did not mention the influence one man had on his children
or how the subtle character traits he exhibited would probably be passed
down from generation to generation. I felt the overwhelming need to capture
some of these details and record them for the sake of our unborn generations
I wrote a short tribute with the intention of sharing it with
members of my family. I now know that grief experts regard the sharing of
emotions as a crucial step in the healing process after losing a loved one.
It certainly helped me a lot. But, I also found that writing a tribute and
sharing it within my family still left me with uncertainty about whether the
documents and emails would survive.
Then it struck me. Maybe if I was feeling this way others did also.
It occurred to me that I could preserve the tribute to my father in a book
if I could find enough other like-minded people interested in the same idea.
The advantages of preserving a tribute in a book were apparent to me. I
could give books to members of my family and they would be handed down from
generation to generation. I also realized that by providing copies of the
book to the Library of Congress the tribute to my father would be preserved
for hundreds of years.
As I discussed these thoughts with a few friends I became even more
encouraged. Some of them wanted help writing a tribute and others wanted to
write a tribute themselves. I knew that gathering tributes written by many
individuals and publishing them in a book would be a monumental undertaking,
and probably expensive.
I realized that the only way that I could accomplish my objective,
make the process functional, and do it at a reasonable cost, was to rely on
standards and technology. As I played with the numbers I began to formulate
a plan. If I printed 416 page books filled with two and four page tributes,
and for each two pages a "customer" would get ten books, I might be able to
keep the cost reasonable enough to attract others. I knew that I had to
minimize overhead costs by relying on technology so I sought out two experts
in that field and recruited them to join me in starting a new company.
Together the three of us recruited freelance writers throughout the
United States, purchased domain names, built an interactive web site,
collected tributes, and began publishing. Now anyone with an interest in
preserving the memory of a loved one in a written tribute can do so at a
reasonable cost. All of the tributes we publish are also included in our
online "tribute directory" where anyone with internet access can read them.
The tribute to my father, a man who is worth remembering, is the "Sample
Tribute" on our website - www.worthrememberingpublishing.com.
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