Thursday, October 12, 2017

My First Booksmith Tome: Verna's Journal

One day last April, I made an unplanned trip to the recycling center. It's on the way to the post office, so I thought I'd swing by even tho I didn't have all that much stuff to drop off. This part of the story is important because if I had gone another time, I would have missed everything!

I chucked the paper in the paper bin and as I was walking toward the container bin, I noticed PAPER in there. In my judgey-ness, I thought, "How hard is it to sort things into the proper bin?!"  As I got closer, I realized that it wasn't just paper, it was cards: birthday, holidays, and just because. Mixed in with the coffee grounds and a wad of gum, was a family photo album and calendar made with family photos, and a beautiful (empty) silver picture frame. They were all addressed to "Verna," and were from 2013 to the present.

They were obviously special to Verna and I thought, "Who would just throw away someone's memorabilia?"  So I pulled everything out and put it in a box and took it home. As I sifted thru everything, I could tell that this was a woman who was well-loved. There were photos of her laughing and one in particular, where she was holding up a huge jar of peanut butter.

The great thing was that I had addresses of Verna's friends and family. The one person who sent the most cards was her daughter Peggy, who lives out of state. So I did a little Facebook detective work and found her. I sent her a message and told her that I found her mother's mementos, and gave her my phone number.

A few days later, she called me. It turns out that her mother had just passed away. My heart just hurt for her. I said something like, "I know what it's like to lose your mother when you love her. There is no pain like it. I'm a little further along than you, but it is the hardest thing."  So we had a lovely talk and I was able to send her a package for Mother's Day, the first without Verna.

I sent Peggy the photos, but I kept the cards and told her I wanted to make a junk journal with them, if that was OK with her. She said her mother's service wouldn't be for a few months, so I had time before she would be back in Virginia.

Well, I finally met Peggy this week!  We met at the Silver Diner and I gave her Part One of the journal. There were so many cards that if I had put everything together, the journal would have had a 6-inch spine!  So for the first bit, I gave her all the cards from Verna's friends.  I had gotten this Weight-Watcher's binder in Verna's favourite colour and did a fabric-paper collage on the front to hide the logo.

It also has a pocket. See the card?

Here's the inside:

As Peggy went thru some of the cards, she updated me and told me that a few had passed away since Verna had died.  I felt like I got to know not just Verna, but her friends, as well. One of her friends, Dixie, had sent the most cards besides Peggy. She was one of the ones who passed away. "Oh, not Dixie," I said. So I never met her, but I feel like I did from all the sweet things she wrote to Verna.

 I didn't actually plan to have 2 parts, but I'm so glad I did!  I created a journal for her with the rest of cards from her, and more photos of Verna. I drilled holes into the cover, so that I could attach the picture frame, and kept them plugged up with little picture-hanging nails while I painted it.

This is the only photo I took, but I managed to grab some screenshots from the video!

The famous curved spine of Nik The Booksmith:


I made this as a travelers notebook with a hidden spine. First insert, inside:
The first insert has a pocket and I used one of Mum's buttons as the fastener for the ribbon. I made
 this with the intention of using as a guest book at Verna's memorial service if Peggy needed one. 
 Inside the first insert:
What a cool lady Verna is!  
The quote on the first page is from the Baptist Hymnal:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you 
richly in all wisdom; teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms and 
hymns and spiritual songs, singing 
with the grace in your hearts to the Lord."
~Colossians 3:16

When I first decided to make a journal for Peggy, I had no idea how I was going to do it. But then Nik The Booksmith's course came out, and I was able to create something heirloom-worthy!  NOTE: this link will take you to some insipid, Vigilink advertising page. Go to the tiny "skip these deals & continue to Etsy" on the right.  My apologies for this; there is nothing I can do about it. I'm not sure if it's a Blogger Thing or an Etsy Thing. If I were to wonder, "How could Etsy be even LESS user-friendly?" this would prolly be it.  Hehhhh . . . rant over.  :-)

Here's the flip thru:

I did the flip-thru right before I went to meet Peggy and her two grandkids. It was so great going thru it with her as she told me more stories about Verna and Verna's friends. Her 5 YO ("almost 6!") grandson actually read the Dick and Jane pages. Such a smart boy!  And both kids had a very enthusiastic response to all the pictures of cakes and candies!  

I am SO GRATEFUL that I went to the recycling bin on the "wrong" day and that Verna's things were in the "wrong" bin. Had I gone on another day or had they been put in the "right" bin, I would not have found them and would never have met Peggy or been able to salvage Verna's memories.  Peggy is one of the sweetest, kindest people you could ever want to meet and I happy to have her as my friend.  :-)

Even tho I never met Verna, I feel like I know her. She was the same age as Mum, and had the same sort of active life that Mum had, including having volunteer work.  I could tell from all the cards from her friends, that she was well-loved and cherished by so many. And now, you can get to know her, too.


Margaret Horton said...

Oh Hali, This is the sweetest post ever. What a gift you are and what a gift you created for Verna's life celebration and for her daughter.
How many people would have done what you did? It was meant for you to find these belongings. So it is not just the right place at the right time but the right person being at the right place at the right time.
Love you, Margaret

Hali Chambers said...

Dearest Margaret, you are SO SWEET to say that. Reading your kind words actually brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU & LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! :-) H.

Cromulent1 said...

Wow, Hali, what a kind thing to do for someone. Truly the very spirit and meaning of random acts of kindness.

Hali Chambers said...

Awww . . . THANKS SO MUCH, Sweetie! You're the BEST, Jerry! The BEST! :-)

Unknown said...

Wow, that is really beautiful! Mag

Hali Chambers said...

THANKS SO MUCH, Sweetie! Am thinking something for each fam this year. We'll see . . . . :-) LOVE, H.