Monday, May 12, 2014

A born storyteller passes away

My mom had three sisters. Unfortunately, the eldest moved away before I could get to know her. The other two served as "foster" mothers when my mom wasn't around--which was rare, but happened. 

Back row:  me and my mom
Front row:  Aunty Lil, Grandma, Aunty Helga

Nurtured in this large nest, I grew. Until, one day, I met a man. He swept me off my feet. When I regained my footing, I stood on B.C. soil--two provinces away. People here don't know anything about my past. I find this freeing but at times lonely.

Ten years ago, my Aunty Helga moved from Manitoba's Interlake region--where she'd been born and raised--to Salt Spring Island, B.C. She was 79. I travelled to that neighbouring island to visit her every opportunity I got. These visits usually extended over a two day period. It was fun to become reacquainted with her, now as an adult. My aunt and I shared many common interests--crafts,  storytelling and pride in our Icelandic-Canadian heritage, to name but three. People from many corners of the earth have been the receipts of my aunt's quilts. And, of course, most members of her family have at least one.

When people ask me how my writing is going I've learned to self-edit. I've learned to answer, "Fine."
But that answer wasn't sufficient for my aunt. She listened attentively as I outlined my latest plot.
"Remember to leave room for humour," she'd often advise.
In turn, she'd entertain me with stories about her life--growing up on a farm, working in Winnipeg, life as a newly wed, raising her children... My favourite stories featured my mom. The sisters had always been close. And by the things Aunty Helga said I know she took my mom's death very hard--as did I. Sometimes Aunty Helga accompanied her stories with a snapshot or two. She was our family archivist--her camera recording every major event. 
Contrary to what I told myself, Aunty Helga made me feel that my writing was important and that becoming an author was a worthy profession. In fact, occasionally, she said, "You know, I think I could have been an author."

In 2009, I self-published Maynely A Mystery. It was my first novel and I was very happy that it did so well on Mayne Island. With that title, I didn't expect it to do well elsewhere. But I took it to Salt Spring Island, anyway. A few days after I made my deliver, I was surprised to receive a phone call from a bookstore owner. 
"You have to bring us more copies. We've sold out," he told me.
Upon further inquiry, I discovered the source of my success. My aunt had picked up several copies for our family.

Our friendship soared to new heights, when, in 2007, my husband led us from Canada to Iceland. This was my Aunt's second visit to Europe. She'd visited Ireland ten years early--when she was 72.

My aunt recently passed away... She was 89. 

This is my tribute to a mothering aunt, supportive friend, dynamic senior citizen, proud Icelandic-Canadian and true storyteller.
Guest:  mystery author Sharon Rowse

Sharing my author journey...

Oops, I almost forgot to share. So, here, let me correct that oversight--especially, since, boy-oh-boy. The weather here on Mayne Island has been heavenly. And all day the sun has been calling me to go out and enjoy. But, besides my usual 45 minute walk this Tuesday morning, I've been cooped up. Why? Well--and this is the good part--submission number 33 (since January 6th) is ready and waiting for me to take it to the post office. Hurray! Giving birth to this latest manuscript was a month long endeavour. Okay, not really because the month isn't really over. It's a short story collection and it's heading to a contest. I can't say more because I don't want to jinx it. But your good thoughts are most appreciated. Thank you for your interest. Think of me happily walking to the post office tomorrow--hopefully in the sun. : )