There is a human need to be remembered, "to feel that our life on this earth has mattered," said Susan V. Bosak, an independent researcher in education and author of "Something to Remember Me By."
"Most people aren't an Albert Einstein where our name is going to go down in history books. We matter to our family, to the people we love. I think sometimes we need reassurance just to know that we have made a difference and, yes, we have left an important legacy on this earth."One of the most important legacies, according to Bosak, is that left by grandparents - a legacy so strong in her life she wrote "Something to Remember Me By" (The Communication Project) in honor of her now-99-year-old grandmother.
And it was in Utah, she added, that the book found its niche and from where the story's success spread.
In a recent interview with the Deseret News, Bosak, who travels throughout the United States and Canada conducting intergenerational workshops for schools and community groups, spoke of the response her book has received here. "My feeling is this part of the country certainly seems to be very family oriented, and I think that's one of the reasons they are responding to the book. The people just seem very warm and very open. There's an emphasis on the positive here."
It's the emphasis on the positive that the author hopes to instill through not only her book but also her workshops, which bring old and young together to enhance communication and understanding.
"I think we are living in an increasingly age-segregated society. We have suburbs filled with young families. We have more and more older people living in retirement communities that don't allow children. Schools are segregated by age in our society, and families are increasingly spread across the continent where the generations aren't as close together. What happens is misunderstandings and fears develop because there isn't that interaction. But aging is a natural part of life."
Bosak speaks warmly of her relationship with her grandmother throughout her childhood and into her adult years - a relationship that is the basis for the book. When the author was a small girl, she received little mementos and keepsakes from her grandmother. "Something to remember me by," the older woman would say. To this day, Bosak has those keepsakes, including a cedar chest that now sits at the foot of her bed.
"The hardest part for me is she doesn't understand I've written this book," Bosak continued. "It wasn't until she became sick that it just hit me how much she had given me and how much a part of me she was. I just wish she knew that."
Bosak has turned that yearning into the desire to help others enjoy relationships between the generations. Before the book was even published, she was using the story of her grandmother as a catalyst to communication in her workshops.
"I remember one workshop we did, it was a group of older people and young children. I had the sweetest little boy and after he heard the story, he asked, `What's a memory?' And one of the older gentlemen in the group said, `A memory is something that's warm in your heart.' And then the whole group started to talk about what made their hearts warm."
Bosak describes her book as "a very personal story, but a very universal story. People see themselves. They see their mother, their grandmother, their child, their grandchild."