From The Authors
Pamela & Stephen Pavuk
A Letter From The Authors
Your story should be told.
Have you ever lost someone important to you? Is there more you wanted to say to or hear from that loved one while they were still here? We all must answer “yes” to these questions. Too often we realize we have not found out all we want to know about those closest to us before it is too late. We assume there will be plenty of time and that there is no need to rush to collect the information. Somehow it never happens. Sadly, most of us simply fail to ask our loved ones the things we really want to know about them and what life has meant to them. Their personal remembrances, attitudes and beliefs usually fade from memory and are lost forever.
Knowing our own regrets about not having connected on a deeper level with our loved ones before they passed on, we should perhaps also feel an obligation not to leave our own survivors with the same regrets. Even so, we ourselves seem to wait until it’s too late to tell our own stories. Although friends and family may benefit from our perspectives, most of us never commit our life’s impressions to pen and paper. More often than not, our unique personal histories and philosophies are forgotten because they are not written down. Perhaps we are embarrassed and feel it would be presumptuous to talk about ourselves. We may feel that our life is insignificant because “we haven’t done much”. But our lives are very significant to our families and others who love us.
Many good things flow from your writing of your life story and philosophy of living. There is surely great benefit you can get from rediscovering yourself through introspection. Just as importantly, mutual understanding between you and those closest to you is enhanced as they – while you are still here with them – read about your “inner journey” through life and learn more about your deeply-held beliefs and values. New communication begins among all generations in your family. Younger family members are fascinated by your telling of your experiences as a youth. They see what they have in common with you. They are instructed and even inspired to know what you went through. They feel a greater sense of belonging. They find greater worth in their family and themselves. They are motivated to nobler aspirations in the world.
Your reflections on your life can give valuable insight into choices you have made and lessons you have learned along your way. Insuring the legacy of your life so others in your family can learn the knowledge and wisdom you have gained from your lifetime of experience is far from being presumptuous. It is, perhaps, the most important and greatest gift you can give to those you love — the gift of self.
– Pamela and Stephen Pavuk
P.S. We hope you will be inspired when you read our story below!
The Story Behind The Story
It was love, respect and a special need for insight into her parents that gave Pamela Pavuk the inspiration for The Story of a Lifetime.
In 1993, Pamela’s parents traveled across country to visit her and her family. The day they arrived, her mother fell and broke her hip. After undergoing surgery, she ended up immobilized on a hospital bed in the Pavuks’ family room for two weeks. “My father had gone blind in recent years, but still felt his way around our home to take care of my mother’s every need. Mom would read for him daily, at mealtime tell him where his food was on his plate and do her best to fill in his other ‘blind spots’.”
Watching them care for each other so lovingly while remaining eternally optimistic, seeing them laugh at themselves and their obstacles, Pamela was filled with awe and wonder over their resiliency and their commitment to each other after almost 60 years of marriage. She realized there was so much about these two very special people that she didn’t know. There were questions she had never asked, questions she had feared to ask, questions that simply had never been answered.
“It suddenly seemed as if their lives were passing me by,” says Pamela. “Where had I been all those years while they grew old?”
To show them how important they were to her, Pamela set out to compile a list of questions reflecting her loving interest in them and their lives. “I worked very hard for several months preparing the list to give to my parents for Christmas. The day before Thanksgiving, proud to have finished in time to have it beautifully bound before the holidays, I ran down to the local coffee shop to celebrate with a cappuccino. When I got home, I discovered a message on my answering machine. Mom said ‘Pam, your dad just passed away.’ I was devastated with grief and riddled with guilt. I had waited too long. Now I would never hear from Dad, first hand, about all the lessons he had learned and the wisdom he had gained. He would never tell me what life had meant to him. Most of all, he would never hear from me how much I loved and appreciated him.”
Pamela stayed with her mother a few weeks after her father’s funeral. They talked about the man they had both loved so much. Amid the flood of emotions they shared, Pamela realized there was a way she could translate her grief, guilt and anger into something that could help others. She decided she would not only finish the bound volume for her Mom but would expand upon the list of questions, making it appropriate for anyone to use.
Pamela engaged her husband, Stephen, in her project. They worked many months together, aiming to create a gift that would enable people to experience something that often escapes most of us before we know it. The book is intended to express what we feel toward those closest to us, but many times neglect to actually say until it is too late. – “We love you right here, right now and forever.”
The result of the Pavuks’ efforts is a unique gift book containing almost 500 “simple to provocative” questions that enable the recipient to write his or her story and philosophy. When completed, this “keepsake of personal memoirs” paints the true picture of a person in that person’s own hand, tells the true story in that person’s own “voice”.
“We wanted the book to go beyond historical events of a person’s life and to reach into the personality and the soul,” says Stephen.
Though primarily a gift expressing the elegant, respectful sentiment that “your life is important to me”, The Story of a Lifetime has grown to be used in many other ways. With patients who have terminal diagnoses, in twelve-step programs, therapy and wellness contexts, university-level journalist and creative writing courses and other ways, the book has benefited the person completing it and those close to him or her.
“Our loved ones make their footprints in the shifting sands of life. Helping them record their experiences and memories will preserve those impressions for countless years to come,” says Pamela.
The Story of a Lifetime is a gift for all ages and for all seasons. When completed, the gift comes full circle, becoming a one-of-a-kind keepsake to be treasured for generations.