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Stories Through The Ages
Submissions are open for College Edition 2018 (deadline March 15) and Baby Boomers Plus 2018 (deadline June 15). Get your submissions in early. Generations XYZ – let us know if you are interested in a contest.
Dan's Blog Writing your own story is probably the single most effective way to leave a legacy. For some people others will write about their achievements, but for most of us we need to do our own writing. Rather than leaving your personal history within the memories of your loved ones why not write them down for your heirs to read about in the far future. Living Springs Publishers can help you create a high-quality legacy book that makes it possible to pass on your philosophies, thoughts and achievements. Using photographs along with the stories makes these books exceptional. Recently we found a scrapbook with our father’s World War II notes and pictures. Our father, Henry, died in a car accident in 1953 so the finding of this piece of his past helped us answer many questions that had plagued us for years. He never spoke to anyone about the time he spent in the military. Of course, at that time my brothers, sisters and I were too young to understand the significance of fighting a war. Through these notes we have been able to piece together the battles he fought. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, Battle for Remagan and helped destroy and put to an end several of the Nazi concentration camps. His leaving behind the scrapbook is priceless. Our father was only twenty-two years of age when he wrote the notes but it would have been wonderful had he added some of his principles, philosophies and stories to the scrapbook. We recently created a legacy book for our father. It has been a great gift to all of us including his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Writing your own legacy is the best way to be heard and have your point of view acknowledged. There are many different ways to pass on your legacy in writing. Lets start talking about what you want to do. Next time we will explore some of the possible ways to write a legacy book.
Henry often uses short stories and humor to share serious events in a way that doesn’t alarm family and friends.
In the next three editions we will share a story he wrote about an actual event. He used the short story as his way of telling us what happened.
This morning, I made a cup of a cup of coffee and read the paper. Nothing unusual in that routine. I’ve been reading the paper and having a cup of coffee every morning for 65 years. In my youth, I would sit with mother and sip her coffee while she read the paper. We read two newspapers then, one in the morning and one in the evening, Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. I delivered them for years. I read the paper online now, not the same thing but even that disloyal habit has become common although somewhat unwieldy when I have to lug the laptop to a coffee shop.
Why am I reflecting on these matters? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I am about to die.
It doesn’t seem right that I’ll die today. I’m a Cancer survivor, to die now after surviving lymphoma isn’t fair. Hell, I know things, I met Ken Kesey for God’s sake. I’m one of the few people in the world who has actually read and even partially understood Finnegan’s Wake; not a talent particularly worthwhile but not one to be wasted. It would be a shame to die now with no one even aware of my special gifts. I mention this because part of James Joyce’s plot and imagery is about rivers and I am in a river of shit right now. It’s the California portion of the North Equatorial current, I think. A river in the ocean. How do I justify this Joycean reference? Because I have discovered that my mind tends to wander in irrelevant directions when faced with impending death.
I’ve always been considered a little odd, growing up in a small, ultra-conservative community where conformity was a virtue, sports and hunting, drinking beer and rebuilding engines the norm; I was perceived as peculiar, a hazy-minded day-dreamer who spent hours reading.
In retrospect I never should have gone into the water, there was no one else swimming and very few people even on the beach. I took my wallet from my pocket, placed it in my shoe and told Larry and Diane I was going to cool off. It was 100 degrees in the shade and we had been walking up and down the sizzling streets of El Quelite visiting shops, having fun, observing the small town and its colorful inhabitants. A dip in the ocean seemed logical.
I may have been giddy early on before the realization that I would die. Panic occurs in that moment between experiencing life normally and the rude recognition that the irrevocable purchase of death has been receipted. Not a quick death, in this case, but one where there’s time to draw buried memories to the surface of consciousness, slowly developing a suggestion of imminent disaster and then fully incorporating the reality.
I began to sense that something was wrong, and yet, the feeling of terror didn’t occur immediately. There was a period of analysis, of dawning, like a curtain going up to expectations of a kindergarten play but the scene onstage is from the Marquis De Sade. Not giggly nervous children but grotesque creatures with faces contorted in agony, their bodies twisted into demonic shapes. I first rejected the concept like a business proposal to a conservative committee; nope, I’m not interested, this isn’t happening, it can’t be, but then, the ugly truth takes time to congeal, to form like pudding in a mold.
Earlier, I was basking in the sun, enjoying the beach, gazing at the sky. It was a hot humid day and I wasn’t paying attention to the current. The waves were rough but mainly a nuisance, mostly I was remembering the beautiful lady that I’d met in El Quelite.
What was her name? Anna something, refined yet funny and she spoke English well, much better than my Spanish, maybe I can see her again. She said that she lives and works in Mazatlán during the Tourist season. Maybe I’ll go by her curio shop; I know where it is.
But I can’t, not yet, because I have to resolve this issue. Be positive, don’t think of it as a problem, it’s an objection to overcome, I’m not in a crisis; I have an opportunity to succeed, regardless of how bleak it looks. Swim hard for shore, I’m not that far out, swim hard, harder, but it’s useless. What in the world is wrong with me, I’m a good swimmer, why can’t I get out of this current?
Suddenly I panic. Bile heaves into my throat and mouth and I flail like an angry child denied a sugar candy; thrashing and churning like a wild man in an outnumbered fight, only my beating is administered by the lashing of the waves and the realization that I am going to die. A wretched sinking feeling of agony and fear grips me. Then a heavy wave washes over tumbling in a spin cycle. I can’t tell the beach from the sea, my ass from my ankle. I gasp for air, gagging, and salt water pours from my nose. This is complete terror, my god, the horror, I really am going to drown; please tell me it isn’t happening. Try to touch the bottom, No! Keep your head up, surely there’s someone on the beach who can see me, someone who can hear me. But there isn’t, I’m alone.
Stay calm, tread water, panic is what leads to death. The waves wash over me, filling my mouth and nose, this is unbearable. I feel like screaming because this is all so unnecessary. I shouldn’t be drowning. I just wanted to cool off. Surely there must be someone on shore, I wave and yell, “Help me, help, please” but there is no one and my voice is drowned by the surf pounding. At least I’m far enough removed from the shore that the waves aren’t as severe, I can turn over and float, try to avoid panic.
What was that story about the little girl whose Daddy told her to be careful of the undertow, but she thought that he said under toad. So she was afraid of a giant frog in the water that was waiting for her like a boogie man under her bed. She imagined that it would shoot its long tongue out and grab her like an insect, so she wouldn’t go near the water for years after; I wish I wouldn’t have because now the under toad has me. (to be continued)