Mary is a multi-published Australian author, especially in Christian romance novels. After being published by Harlequin Mills and Boon medicals and Barbour Publishing with inspirational (Christian) romance in America, her most recent novels are being released by Ark House Press, a Christian publisher in Sydney, Australia. Book One in this new series, Return to Baragula, has been released in America with Book Two scheduled for 2010. The third in this series, Justice at Baragula will be released in Australasia in 2010. Read more about Mary and her minister husband on www.mary-hawkins.com
Already amazing stories are coming out of the tragedy in Haiti. There are stories of miraculous escapes, rescues, people who risk their own lives searching for survivors in the rubble – like the young man who risked his own life to dig a tunnel for days to reach his next door neighbour’s little girl many days after the earthquake, but also stories of people driven by desperation to looting, rioting, grabbing and doing what they can to survive. In the weeks, months and years to come there will be many, many more stories in our newspapers, magazines, on the news, TV documentaries. However I can’t help but think of all the other stories that will never be told simply because no one bothered to record them. Sadly, only a comparatively few of the multitude of good and the bad events from these days will anyone in generations to come every know. Some of course over time may be best forgotten perhaps but shouldn’t families at least know their own families’ personal stories? After everything that can be is restored once more, how many of the survivors and rescue workers will eventually write down their own private experiences for their children and generations to come.
Over the years my husband and I have talked about how sad we are that our elderly relatives never wrote down their stories for us, our children, grandchildren and the generations to come. Strange as it may seem to many in this modern era of communication such as the world has never known before, in this day of the I pods, internet, email – even blogs! – we are in danger of losing permanent records. How many of us print off an email from a friend that once would have been in a letter form? One hit on the delete button and that information is lost, gone.
A couple of years ago I had the privilege of sorting out cupboards in my mother’s house before she had to go into a retirement home. My sister and I found a wealth of old letters she had kept going back to the late 1930s after she and my Dad left their parents and families in South Australia to start a new life thousands of miles away in Queensland. There were even several from one of my grandmothers to my sister and I, written in her own hand-writing. We have always been glad that a few years ago my mother was persuaded to write down the story of that very difficult trip from Eyre’s Peninsula across the harsh outback of New South Wales. Of course, over the years we’d heard some of the stories like the time my eldest brother, then only six months old nearly died of heat exhaustion in that harsh January which I’ve recently discovered was during one of the worst heat waves ever recorded. Also some years ago, I managed to use a mini-recorder and get my father’s brother to tell me some stories of my Dad who died when I was sixteen years old. Now somehow I have to transport that old cassette to a CD – or should it be an MP3 disc nowadays!
It is a cliché we all know that ‘truth is stranger than fiction.’ Many novelists have been told by readers – yes, and even editors especially – that an incident the writer knows really happened is considered too ‘unbelievable’ in their novel. I believe truth can be not only ‘stranger’ it can be even ‘stronger’ than the novels we try to write! But the truth does need to be recorded faithfully by eye witnesses.
Have you encouraged your family members to write down their personal experiences for the sake of future generations? Have you written down your own? And let us never make the mistake of thinking or saying ‘my life is too boring.’ For those who love you, who are related to you, in years to come it may bring you and your circumstances alive for them – yes, perhaps even the difficult days and the seemingly ‘boring’ times!