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51 stories down. [infinty symbol] to go…

I have finally added in the last of the first fifty-one stories from my old True Life site.

I started writing True Life back in 1998 as a hand-rolled web memorial to my past family, events, and themes. It was then, and remains today, my personal mirror and cathartic echo chamber, and a place where I can polish my stories, refine my memories, and find patterns and meaning.

I stopped adding to the original site sometime around 2005 – maybe I just got burned-out, or bored with the way the site looked. It had just stopped exciting me, so I let it be for what it was. Not long after, my personal Linux server started to die, so I took it offline, and True Life (which was hosted on that server) went down entirely.

Strangely, I didn’t feel much loss from “de-publishing” the True Life project – maybe I even felt liberated. I didn’t have to carry that self-imposed burden of a shrine on my back, if I didn’t want to. I began resenting Mum and Dad for all their failings as parents, and then moved their little framed photographs off the top of my dresser, and down to a low corner of a bookshelf, where I wouldn’t be reminded of them so often. I decided that it’s okay to not want to see them, and to feel sick of them and of the one-sided story I’d been telling about them for almost 10 years. I decided that we were a failed family, and they were failed parents to my sister and I. Kids can’t choose their parents, but as an adult, I could sure as hell scorn mine, post-mortem.

I have noticed that I tend to obsess over people who are no longer in my life. If there’s nothing to be learned from conversing with ghosts, I really ought to let them go unanswered.

However, I eventually came back to my family background, as I always have. Reminders of past joys, sorrows, abuses and achievements kept entering my mind. Writing my memoir as “True Life” may be a compulsion now – a deep part of my identity. As they say, I might be done with the past, but the past ain’t done with me.

So, I’ll boot up Scrivener, or get my pad and pen, and start sketching out snippets of a path that will take me from 1976 towards the early eighties, when things got much, much worse.

It’s time to bite off more than I chew again, and choke down what I can of all those random scraps of daily life, and digest it all into some kind of coherent narrative. I will stick my head out, and see where the process takes me.

Should only take a few hundred more stories to get True Life up to the year 2000. At this rate, it may never get done, but I think the process is the important piece.

What magic has brought us here…?

Walking a crunchy, leafy path towards a new year,
maybe just too aware of the sound of my own footsteps
to enjoy the trees around and the sky above,
and the others who walk alongside me.

I won’t turn my head, and look back.
Not too much.

(Here’s a lyric from an Odds song called “The Truth Untold”.)

The truth untold
Will always lie between us
We may never unfold
The way our lives have brought us here

“True Life” connects me to relatives I never knew I had…

My “True Life” web project is connecting me to relatives I never knew I had.

I haven’t written any stories in True Life for many, many months now, but the project has attracted attention from people in different parts of the world, and some of them have contacted me to tell me they’ve read it. The most rewarding times for me have been when someone contacts me and tells me they’re a relative! This has happened a few times over the years. A few years ago, a gentleman from England named Brian Scanlon contacted me, saying that his grandmother was a cousin to my great aunt. Through his generous sharing of his research, I learned more about the family of my dear old Auntie Molly, a wise matriarchal figure who helped to raise my Dad and his siblings, and who was a strong influence on and a comfort to me when I was in my pre-teen years. More recently, a gent from England named Alfred told me that he was related to my maternal grandfather, whom I always called “Poppy”.

I grew up never knowing very much about Poppy’s upbringing or his early years, or even where he was born. When I was very young, around eight, sitting on Poppy’s knee, he told me that he came to Canada from England when he was about 12 years old. When I asked who he came over with, he fell silent and looked a bit sad. I learned from Alfred that Poppy was the product of his father’s first marriage, and that Alfred’s grandfather was a product of Poppy’s father’s second marriage. So, Alfred’s grandfather was a half-brother to mine.

Alfred’s research also showed me that my Poppy was in fact a “home child” – a kid who was basically shipped off to a foreign country (Canada, in this case) to provide labour to another family, and presumably a better life in another land. The folks back home in England knew that Poppy had gone to Canada and had became an RCMP officer, but they may not have known much more. I didn’t even know that my Poppy had a full sister, or that he had family back in England. Learning about his life, has helped to connect me more to my own.

True Life originally went live in 1998. It is my ongoing, online attempt to cobble together a complete, illustrated personal life story, documenting fuzzy memories from my birth, onwards. A collection of over 50 stories and anecdotes illustrated with photographs and original sketches, True Life is an evolving tribute to my lost family, past friends, and to the various challenges and people I’ve known over the years. It all begins not long after March of 1966…

To read True Life, go to and click on one of the album on the left side, like “1966 – 1971”.

True Life is coming back to life…

After many years of dormancy, I have restarted this web project, as a way to keep telling my personal history.

The history of this project goes back to 1998, when I began designing a website that could organize my memoir as a series of small stories. I didn’t know how to tell my story, and the idea of writing a book or something seemed too big and monolithic to take on. I decided to use the web, and break the tale down into little chunks that I could complete, one-by-one, as the spirit moved me and time permitted. Overall, I wrote about fifty stories or articles on  my original True Life site before I let it lapse for a number of years.

My driving need to write that story continues, fifteen years later after starting this project, and better writing platforms are making it a richer process. Now, instead of my hand-written HTML website, I can enjoy authoring with the benefits of the WordPress platform where plugins give me access to new  capabilities I have yet to fully exploit, and responsive web design means that my site looks and works better on tablets and smartphones.

WordPress also means that writing can happen anywhere I want it to. I can now write stories or post articles using apps on my tablet, instead of needing to FTP into my website and use an HTML editor. It just makes it easier to develop this project wherever I happen to be. This is the way it is now.

Welcome to the Bloggy Part…

This site is devoted to my life experiences and family history, genealogy, and connecting with others with similar experiences.

Here, I’ll post news or updates related to this project, or tools, techniques, issues, or opinions relevant to this project.