PRAISE & TRUE STORIES
Praise For The Book
“The Miracle Book…a treasure that has touched hundreds of lives…”
“This ‘gift of the soul’ is terrific for the health of ourselves, our relationships and our society. It thanks our loved ones for being who they are and creates a more loving future, based in truth. We can’t think of a more perfect gift.”
– Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D., Co-authors of “The New Intimacy”,
Co-hosts of The New Intimacy on WisdomRadio.com
“This book is a meditation, a reflection, a great journey, getting to know yourself better, connecting with your family.”
– Rev. Monsignor Thomas Hartman, Co-host, God Squad, New York
“A book I am excited about…an extraordinary gift to give someone…a family heirloom that's really the best of all heirlooms. It has the ‘God Squad seal of approval’.”
– Rabbi Marc Gellman, President, New York Board of Rabbis, Co-host, God Squad, New York
“Absolutely a wonderful gift! Every child should give this to their parents.”
– Brenda Teele Jackson, Co-host, Positively Texas, CBS-11, Dallas/Ft. Worth
“…exactly the kind of product we had in mind when we established the Seal of Quality…”
– International Family Entertainment (The Family Channel)
“It’s compelling, amazing…just incredible. Obviously makes a really great gift for a lot of occasions…a book that can be used by so many different people…one of those things that’s really worth the wait…certainly a great benefit to be had…”
– Conference Call, News 970 WINF, Staunton, VA
“A special, unique book…communicates that you value the life of the person you give it to. This is an inside look into the internal journey of the individual that you love. Becomes more of a treasure the more [they] write in it. It really gives you insight into the heart…very healing for the one doing it…a wonderful blessing…more precious as time goes on.”
– Life Quest, Lifetalk Radio Network, Yakima, WA
“A springboard for others to appreciate their family while they are living!”
– Portfolio, Associated Press Radio News
“Such a marvelous book…a real keepsake. Families through generations will enjoy.”
– Mid-Morning with Char Binkley and Lynne Ford, WBCL-FM, Ft. Wayne, IN
“This is lovely…a really great book”.
– Home and Family Show, The Family Channel, Universal Studios, CA
“After the funeral, the family gathered and read his answers. So many unanswered questions about my own father were answered. Every family, every person should have this book.”
– C. M., Sacramento, CA
True Stories From Recipients
(as told by Stephen Pavuk, Co-author with his wife Pam, of The Story of a Lifetime)
A few days after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, I was walking through a place of business in the small town where Pam and I live. When I go to this place I am often served by a man who works there, whom I will call Paul. I don’t know Paul well enough to call him a close friend. He is more like a friendly acquaintance.
That day, as I made my way through the other customers, Paul motioned for me to come over to where he stood. Careful that no one else could hear, he whispered to me, “I’d like to get one of those books (The Story of a Lifetime) from you. I have a friend who is having some marital problems and I think that if he and his wife will talk about the things in this book, it will help their marriage.” Several days later I took a book to Paul.
I didn’t think much more about the incident until a few weeks after that when, while traveling out of town, I got a call from Paul on my cell phone. His voice was full of nervous excitement as he said, “Stephen, I have a confession to make. You know that book I got from you? It was not for my friend. It was for me.” I said, “That’s O.K., Paul, please don’t feel bad about that,” but I wondered why he was calling all of a sudden to tell me this.
Paul continued, “Oh, I don’t feel bad at all. Let me tell you what happened. I was trying to answer a question in the front part of the book. It was a question that brought to mind something that happened in my childhood involving my only brother and me. I could not remember all the details, so I called my brother in Arizona. We had a nice long talk and before it was over he helped me remember everything.”
I said, “Well, that’s wonderful, Paul,” but I was thinking to myself, “Why is Paul so excited about his brother remembering a few things?” Then he said, “Here’s the thing, Stephen. My brother and I had a falling out over three years ago. We hadn’t even spoken to each other since then, but this one little question in this book got me to call him and during that phone call we reconciled. We said, ‘we are the only brothers we have. It’s ridiculous for us not to talk to each other’.”
My heart swelled as I realized how Paul had put love first and changed his life. I said, “Paul, you just made my day. I can’t wait to tell Pam about this.” Then Paul said, “Wait, Stephen, here’s what is really important. Now, our children will spend the holidays with their cousins for the first time in three years.” My eyes teared up as I thanked Paul for calling and said goodbye.
Reflecting on Paul’s story later, I realized that he didn’t need The Story of a Lifetime to reconcile with his brother. He already wanted to do that but, like so many of us, because of embarrassment, pain, procrastination or fear, he kept putting off what he knew he needed to do. Then, while reflecting more closely on the events of his childhood, Paul became much more focused on what was important in life. He realized that life can be so much shorter than any of us ever expected. He saw that any of us can lose a loved one at any moment without notice or warning. He reassessed his priorities and his fears and decided that he wanted to live a life with more meaning.
And, Paul wanted to reach out to his brother before it was too late. After doing so, he found that he himself had received so much by giving this gift of reconciliation to his brother. But Paul’s gift goes beyond the rekindled brotherhood he feels. He gave his children a gift as well – the gift of his selfless, loving example that they will now surely model in their own lives.
Joan is a former schoolteacher, retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District after 33 years. She is the married mother of eight grown children, and she has 29 grandchildren. She and her husband, Gordon, had adopted two of her children when they were about nine or ten years of age. The children had previously suffered all manner of abuse. Joan is using The Story of a Lifetime to share with these two children the inner story of “some of the struggles we all had to go through” in helping them grow and adjust after years of abuse.
Joan has strong opinions about the importance of parents connecting with kids, and sees The Story of a Lifetime as a wonderful tool to this end. As a teacher, she states, “I know that school can be one of the worst places we can send our kids, in terms of what happens to them emotionally there. It is a dangerous place sometimes. I think family connections are the only thing that can give them staying power. Communication is the key. You can make anything work if you can communicate about it and understand each other. And that’s why I think this book is so great.”
Joan relates how her now-grown children are responding to passages she has written in The Story of a Lifetime. “They were amazed. They were saying, ‘Mom, I never heard any of this before.’ My husband and I decided that each of them should have this book, so we bought sixteen copies this year and are giving them to our children and their spouses on their birthdays.”
Part of Joan’s motivation to memorialize her life story and philosophy of living springs from a deep personal regret of not having said everything to or heard everything she needed to hear from her own mother. “My mom died very, very suddenly, and when I saw this book I thought, ‘Oh, what I would have given to have had this from my mom.’ “
Joan also talks about how The Story of a Lifetime is benefiting her husband. “Gordon helped liberate one of the extermination camps in Germany and … he can’t even say … he can’t even talk about that — even to me. And so the book is just so wonderful because he can write it down and they [my children] can all have it; and it’s so important.”
“We want our children to know how much we love them. We want them to know more about us, to understand us.”
Dorothea is a married 41-year-old African-American/Cherokee mother of four. She lives in Queens, NY, but her family will soon return to their roots, moving to a new house they just built right next door to the 120-year-old family homestead in Johnston, South Carolina.
Dorothea had long wanted to write a book to preserve, for her children, the history of her family’s struggles. But, as with most mothers, the demands of a busy and growing family rarely allowed her the time to accomplish all she wanted to do. She says that when she found The Story of a Lifetime, “It was like a dream come true. This book represents everything I always wanted to do with my children, but couldn’t.”
She is rescuing and writing down almost-forgotten stories gleaned from elders in her family. She has recorded how her grandmother purchased the land in South Carolina in the 1880’s with moneys hard-earned from doing domestic work. She has learned that her grandmother’s cousin was the first African-American dean at Tuskegee Institute. Dorothea regularly shares with her four young children these and countless other stories she has written in The Story of a Lifetime. She says, “My children are always looking in the book to see if I have written more. It brings us closer together. They appreciate the struggles their ancestors went through. I believe it gives them more power to respect themselves and see their own worth, as well as that of their family.”
Bob is a 70-year-old, husky, seemingly introverted, retired truck driver (some would say a “macho” type). Based on appearances, he is probably the last person one would expect to share any of his deepest feelings. He has been married for about 40 years and has four grown children with families of their own. He says that during his entire life he has never written anything about himself.
When his family threw him a surprise birthday party, one of the presents he received from them was The Story of a Lifetime. The day after his birthday he started reading the questions in the book — and began to write his answers. He wrote for two hours that first day. He began to share previously untold stories about his experiences in the Berlin airlift and the Korean conflict — writing deeply personal words he had been unable to speak for more than fifty years. He says, “It’s just too hard for me to talk about, but this book makes it easy for me to write it down so it’s not lost forever.”
In the ensuing months, rising every day before the rest of his family, he continued to write about his perspectives and philosophies on many other things, compelled to get his previously-hidden stories and feelings down so they would not be buried with him one day. Bob wants to insure that his grandchildren will know him better after he is gone, and that his wife, children and other loved ones will know him better while he is still here. After 40 years of marriage his wife says, upon reading some of his answers in The Story of a Lifetime, “Honey, who is this person you’re writing about?” She is learning things about him that she never knew before.
Bob says, with tears in his eyes, “If it hadn’t been for this book, all of this information would have been lost. Nothing has ever moved me like this book.”
Carol is a 50-ish married woman who has had her own nationally broadcast one-hour television program for nine years. She gave The Story of a Lifetime to her father-in-law during the holidays in 1998, shortly after he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver.
During what could have been a completely depressing holiday season that year, Carol and her family experienced a special kind of joy as they gathered regularly with her father-in-law in his living room.
Although he had lost his ability to write, he could still speak clearly, and his mental capacity – including his memory – was working fine. At each gathering, the family would sit in a circle in his living room. With her video camera taping from the corner, Carol would ask her father-in-law questions from The Story of a Lifetime while family members from several generations sat transfixed by his heartfelt responses. Carol says that his cheerful answers and infectious laughter showed her and all of the family how much it meant to him that they were all participating in this special celebration of his life. His love for those close to him was undeniable as he pointed out parts of his stories that related to each. Carol says his final days were very happy ones.
One month later, his loved ones grieved at his passing. But his answers to so many of the questions in The Story of a Lifetime, as captured on video by Carol, continue to comfort them as they are reminded of those last precious times they shared, and the deep connection they had made as he lovingly reviewed his life for them.
Claudia is a middle-aged woman who lives in Sacramento, California. She was first introduced to The Story of a Lifetime at a funeral. The deceased woman had been given the gift book some time earlier by her grandchild. At the funeral, some of the deceased’s family members read passages she had written in the book. Claudia says, “It was such a beautiful way for the people who loved her to remember her.”
Claudia continues, “It became more personal for me recently when an uncle of mine passed away. He had been a very gentle man, quiet and very conservative.” He had been given The Story of a Lifetime a year before he died. “After the services, the family gathered and we all had access to the book. I was totally amazed at the things he had written — almost 80 years of memories and facts of events that had happened in a family that really didn’t know much about each other. So many unanswered questions about my own father were answered, so many myths finally put to rest. I never in a million years would have thought my uncle would have written anything, let alone talk about his feelings. His children were also amazed.”
“I think every family and every person should someday have this book.”