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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 to follow.

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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