A Unique Form of Memoir


It began with a book received from her son last Christmas… “Blank, recycled paper that is truly beautiful, with a wonderful leather cover and a tie to close it up. I intend to turn it into a treasure, with sketches and words of wisdom.”

Those were the words of my Aunt, recorded on her Nonie Vogue’ Flickr webpage on January 1, 2010, along with a photo of the first page of the book that has become one of three such treasures. Every page is filled with carefully selected quotations, illustrated with her own sketches and watercolours. Once she filled its pages she went in search of a second book. Within two months she had filled it and moved on to a third. From January to October she posted 227 photos from three full books (not just 227 pages, because some photos display two pages at a time). That in itself is a remarkable achievement. These books are indeed treasures.

But she isn’t done yet. Having run short of quotations to showcase, and in between knitting dozens of toques and mittens for the homeless, and tiny baby toques for the hospital’s nursery, she has started a fourth treasure book, this time sharing glimpses of her family history. The unexpected interruption of a three-week hospital stay delayed but hasn’t deterred her progress. She is producing a beautiful and uniquely personal memoir with handwritten anecdotes accompanied by her original art, photographing the pages as she goes, and posting them to share with friends and family on Flickr.


Page about Family Home in Vogler's Cove*

She would probably tell you she isn’t “a real writer”, but memoir is a recognized genre and in my books she is both artist and author. Her determination and commitment to the task set an example for me, and for all writers who all too often procrastinate about recording family information that could be a legacy for future generations.

Oh, and did I mention that she’s well past her 87th birthday? She knows that it’s never too late to start. So what are you waiting for? It can be as detailed as collecting family names, dates and occupations in a notebook, or as simple as recording random memories. Or it could be a beautiful “treasure book”, although I think you’d have to go some to match this one.

Are you interested in genealogy? Have you written a memoir? As my Aunt might say, “If not, why not?”


2008 Birthday Photo*

* All photos “borrowed” from Norma McGuire’s Flickr pages