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A difficult conversation

A loved one’s suicide leaves family and friends with unanswered questions. After asking why and what did we miss, one of the biggest questions is, “How do we tell the kids?”
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When my children’s grandfather took his own life, the last thing I wanted to do was tell them how Grampa died. But when a newspaper headlined the details, I knew I had no choice. I went to bed that night wondering how I would tell them, and The Story of The Bear came to me in the night.

It was a way for me to open the difficult conversation. After I told them the story, my then 7-year-old son said, “That was a good story, but it’s too bad the bear had to die.”

And then I told them the rest of the story.

From dream to reality

On Memorial Day 2017, my husband, Fred, and I drove to Marceline, Missouri, to watch the pages roll off the press at Walsworth Publishing. I didn’t know how it would feel to have the long-time dream of publishing The Story of The Bear become a reality.

IMG_7035When we walked into the print area and I saw the pages of my book in living color, it took me back for a minute, as I realized, “Wow, this is for real.”

While I wrote the story to help my children understand their paternal grandfather’s suicide, I like to think that at some level the book honors their grandfather — a kind and gentle man known for his intelligence and leadership. The fact that he had been a World War II veteran added meaning to the Memorial Day printing.

Walsworth sales rep Sallie Buck took photos during the press check and led us on a tour of the impressive printing facility. Nestled in the small town of Marceline, Missouri, Walsworth is the third-largest book publisher in North America.

Incidentally, Marceline is the home of Main Street USA, the downtown that inspired former resident Walt Disney when designing Disneyland. Before leaving town that day, we attended Marceline’s annual Memorial Day program, held of course, at a city park on Main Street USA.

Journey to The Story of The Bear

Writing this story 28 years ago was an act of desperation. Publishing The Story of The Bear — and putting it out into the world with the hope that it will help others — was, and continues to be, a labor of love.

LisaHaving garnered rejection letters when I sent this story to various publishers, two years ago, I began to think about publishing it myself. I asked a friend who is a retired English professor if she would review my manuscript. When she gave it back to me, she told me that her sister illustrates children’s books.

Her sister, Linda Shaw, lives in Ohio; I live in Kansas. Though we have never met, we quickly connected through phone calls and emails. Linda developed a deep understanding of The Story of The Bear, as you’ll see in her illustrations. A little over a year after my first phone call to Linda, and with the expertise of designer Sarah Meiers, The Story of The Bear was ready to print.

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