Allow me to get a bit dramatic here for a minute. (Drama? On this blog? Unheard of!) It's not something she has shouted from the rooftops, and in fact, only those who know our family well are aware of the 20 year project my mother has so passionately (and most notably, patiently) pursued. Today my mom finally finished her novel. For as long as I can remember, this novel has been an ongoing pursuit. It has taken me years to understand the magnitude of the story she was telling and what it means to an entire family in 19th century Georgia and beyond.
For those unfamiliar with this novel, it is the story of a young man named John Henry (later "Doc" the famous gambler and gunfighter) Holliday, born and raised in war-torn Georgia, his short practice of dentistry, and later travels throughout the west to escape Consumption (TB), heartbreak, his crimes, and to find redemption.
The story extended beyond the novel into a lifestyle of projects, service, and jumping into the history of the South. I recall spending many hot summer days as a kid scrubbing and fixing up a 19th century house in Fayetteville, (the smell of old wood and peach buds still gets me feeling very nostalgic - and you how I love that), attending Civil War reenactments and visiting historic sites as family outings while hearing my mom play tour guide, or, while running errands, driving 40 minutes out of the way to make a stop at an old cemetery in Griffin just to visit. Maybe for some, this sounds like a boring childhood, but for me, this is what a summer in Georgia was like. (Don't feel too bad, we still went to pool parties, theme parks, and played dress-up like normal kids). You probably don't know it, but my mom is actually one of the world's foremost experts on the life of Doc Holliday, having spent nearly 20 years on research, traveling everywhere he set foot, speaking at conferences, and being referenced in both biographies and documentaries.
I can only hope my passions take me as far as my mom's have taken her, and that I can have the patience, like her, to sometimes put those things on hold to fulfill greater callings: raising my children and serving in the Church. Though they can't tell it to the world, her storytelling, and more importantly the service she has rendered them, has certainly made her a hero to the Holliday family on the other side.
So even if her novel isn't critically acclaimed or doesn't climb the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List or even if it doesn't change anyone's life, that's ok....
I love you, Mom. And I'm so proud.