In honor of my Grandmother’s 100th birthday my mom and I decided to put together her life history. When we first started on this project our intention was to simply type and print Grandma’s writings. We wanted to put it all in chronological order but it became difficult to sort the stories that weren’t included in an organized journal. Grandma wrote many stories more than once, including new details or added information. Sometimes one story led into another and the same story, on another paper, was part of a different story already recorded somewhere else. It became repetitive and difficult to sort out in our minds.
My Mom, LuAnn Brandt, spent countless hours gathering and typing all of the scraps of paper, journals, and letters. The mountain of paper seemed overwhelming at first but over the past several years she has typed every word without changing a thing. It was an enormous task!
I thought that I would search through her papers and see if I could find something that seemed like a natural beginning. Grandma loved to write about her life and the lives of her family. She often encouraged her grandkids to write their autobiographies. I remember Grandma’s insistence that an autobiography never start with, “I was born on this date, to these people, in this town.” She wanted creativity. I felt a lot of pressure to put the book together in a way that would please Grandma. It took a long time to find that beginning.
As I moved forward with the project the pieces began to fall into place naturally. Grandma has always had a very strong desire to write her life history and although she may have written it in bits and pieces she did complete the puzzle.
I sat in front of the computer for weeks matching pieces. Only a very few times did I have to insert a word or phrase to make the story meld. Often I felt the guidance of the Spirit in the work and felt that Grandma was by my side. The past few months I have gotten to know Grandma in a way that I feel has brought us closer despite her loss of memory.
We weren’t able to complete the book in time for her 100th birthday. However, we were able to present her with a “rough draft”. Grandma flipped through the pages, focusing on the pictures. Without any prompts from my Mother and I, she recognized her grandparents, her parents and her brothers and sisters. She shared memories and stories that were new and I made mental notes to somehow include them in this final version.
As complete as the book may seem, as lengthy as it is- it’s not the total of Lucy’s life experience. She has seen so much change in the world, in the Church, in herself. It is easy to look at her life and see the struggle. It’s not hard to see the joy either. I believe Grandma measures her joy in numbers- she takes pride in the total of her descendants.
My Mother and I are honored to be a part of this book. It has been an exciting, exhausting experience. One that has drawn us closer to our Mother and Grandmother, Lucy Alice Neves Asay Cox.
If you would like to order a copy of “Recollections from the Willow Tree Studio: The Story of My Life” by Lucy Alice Neves Asay Cox, please contact Heidi Bingham @ (801)465-6934. There are only a handful of hardback copies available. If you are interested in a paperback, coil bound, copy we can have those printed as needed.