Category Archives: Aarne’s Story

Maritime Disaster: May 3, 1945

  I remember one evening when I was a teenager, although the exact occasion escapes me now, sitting around the dining room table with my family. We fell silent when my father’s voice filled the space, as he drifted into memory and then into story, as he was apt to do. He recalled a day from long ago and I wondered what had dredged up such a terrifying tale. I could see the pain on his face, hear the tremor in his voice, feel the tension in the air. My mother remained silent, her eyes cast Read more [...]

The Story of a Photograph

Last week, as I was getting ready to go to work I was listening, as usual, to Markus Schwabe on CBC Morning North, when I was struck by one of the topics of the day. Vale’s recent decision to take down the Superstack, Sudbury’s iconic landmark, reminded me of a treasured photograph of my father sitting atop the completed chimney. So, later that day I shared the picture through Facebook. The result of that quick and simple action led to a radio interview on CBC, an interview with my dad with Read more [...]

From Self to Traditional Publishing

  Around this time two years ago, I began the process of self-publishing the manuscript I’d spent the better part of three years working on. At the time, my father’s health was failing and I was driven by a need to complete the work we’d started together. By the following March, my father’s health had improved and we had a book. Nothing could have pleased me more than placing his story into his hands. That spring, a new local publisher started their business with the focus Read more [...]

Lessons From My Father: Lesson #2

Lyrics keep floating through my head lately, reminding me that time is like a well-loved play. You don’t want it to end, but you know the curtain will eventually fall. How does that song go again? Oh yeah. “When you only got a hundred years to live.” My father turned eighty-eight last June and I turned forty-four a few months earlier. Although I’m no mathematician, something about numbers and patterns has always fascinated me, so the fact that I’m almost exactly half my father’s age Read more [...]

Lessons From My Father: Lesson #1

Last week I spoke to a group of mostly seniors, residents of Finlandia Village, for Reading Town. Coincidentally, it was the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and only a few days after the seventy-first anniversary of my father’s liberation from Stutthof Concentration Camp. In the days before the talk, I thought about what I would focus on. Sometimes at these events I discuss the method of interviewing my father, the process of writing and rewriting, the stumbling blocks and challenges Read more [...]

Farewell, Reading Town

Reading Town Ville Lecture wraps up this weekend in Sudbury. It was such an exciting week filled with opportunities to engage with readers and writers that it was impossible to be everywhere at once. If you haven’t heard of Reading Town, let me give you a few details. It’s a week long event organized by the National Reading Campaign to promote reading, books and authors. As a reading promoter in both my roles as a writer and teacher, I was thrilled to hear that my hometown was hosting this Read more [...]

Reflections on a Memorable Year

A year ago, last December, I decided to pull my manuscript from the small presses I had approached earlier that spring and self-publish my father’s memoir.  Looking back, it was a decision I made because of concern for my father’s health and a desire to share his story with others while he could still participate. In fact, at the end of January, my father was hospitalized after my mother found him splayed out on their frozen driveway.  Within a few days of hospitalization, the colour returned Read more [...]

Travel to Write

The more I write, the more I want to travel. The more I travel, the more I must write. Writing my family memoir brought me to many unexpected places: the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.; the port town of Gdansk, Poland; Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Poland; the bay of Lűbeck, Germany. I tasted the salt of the sea air, felt the fine sand between my toes, heard the squawking of sea birds, and breathed in the scent of pine forests. Of course, historical documents, old Read more [...]

The Universe Conspires

Paulo Coelho wrote, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I always liked this idea, but I didn’t really know how it could be possible.  The whole universe? Conspiring? Really?  A month has passed since I launched my family memoir about my father’s experiences as a young Finnish sailor in a Nazi concentration camp.  Before its release on March 19, two months ago, I blogged about the process of self-publishing and all of those things I Read more [...]

My Little Book Goes to Washington

I had a full-circle moment a few days ago when I entered the industrial steel-encased elevator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  A fellow teacher and I had travelled to Washington, D.C. on a school trip with a group of twenty-four grade twelve English and Literature Studies students who were eager to explore the museum for the first time. It was our first stop. This was my third visit to the USHMM, but I was no less excited. Tucked into the pocket of my travel purse I had a copy Read more [...]