Author Bernice Ramsdin Firth is preserving memories of her father. (Citizen file)

Author Bernice Ramsdin Firth is preserving memories of her father. (Citizen file)

Column: Cowichan Valley author is quietly leading by example

If we don’t ensure our community tapestry is strong and colourful, who will?

“Originally from Toronto, Bernice was born in 1934 to an actress mother and an artist father who told her sister and her delightfully silly stories on their walks to the museum and art gallery. These memories have influenced her to this day!”

The paragraph above can be found on the website of Valley author Bernice Ramsdin Firth, opening the description of her background to anyone who drops by the site.

We chatted recently between acts at the Chemainus Theatre and I learned that this writer of children’s books has decided to take a short side trip down memory lane and start to write down those “delightfully silly stories” her dad used to tell.

“I can’t remember his exact words but I’m doing my best,” she told me.

Knowing Ramsdin Firth, that will be more than enough.

That’s great but it’s also important.

I’ve often talked with friends about how nothing seems to last any more. I know I probably sound like just another old geezer who’s bemoaning the loss of the way things used to be but I think it’s more than that.

We don’t seem to value anything anymore: nothing seems to be worth keeping. We toss out our furniture every three or four years and pack home more cardboard boxes full of Styrofoam-wrapped bits and pieces, buy expensive new electronic toys every time somebody waves something shiny, and pay very little attention to what might be lost when we “declutter” our lives.

It might be time to check if we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

I know I sometimes find, looking through my photographs or videos of an occasion, that I didn’t even see some detail of what was happpening as I was recording it. Sure I had it, captured and ready to use, but I had missed the flavour of it.

I’m sure many readers have done the same thing. Become so wrapped up in the mechanics of recording your daughter’s first dance on stage or your son’s first hockey game that you didn’t actually experience it.

Maybe we need to draw back a bit and look around to ensure that we don’t lose our personal histories, those vital threads that make us unique threads woven into the tapestry of our communities.

As the old song says, “Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Ramsdin Firth has realized this, and realized it in time to do something about it, carefully winding the fibres of her father’s tales into the warp and weft of her own life, and in doing so, challenging the rest of us to look around and do the same.