IN A SCRAPBOOK OF POEMS
By Richard Realf
Here: gathered from all places and all time,
The waifs of wisdom and of folly meet.
High thoughts that awe and lilting words that chime.
Like Sabbath bells heard in far valleys sweetly;
Quaint fancies, musical with dainty rhyme
Like the soft patter of infant’s feet;
And laughter radiant as summer skies,
And giant hopes looking out from human eyes.
With thrilling hymns that make the quick tears start.
And here, in garlands of strange fantasy
To catch the careless passer’s casual look,
And show, within the limits of a book,
Unto him his life’s own large epitome.
I started copying these quotes, poems and stories when I was 13 years old. I can’t remember now if it was this poem, or a lesson somewhere (which I have since heard on several occasions) that said "A good speaker is always on the look out for good material. Begin early in life, and collect every story, poem, quote, article, or thought you see, read, or hear that makes you think or touches your soul." I remembered getting Dad’s old Missionary I. P.* Book off the shelf from time to time to find a poem for a Primary talk, and there were LOTS of good things in it. So, I decided when I was 13 that I wanted to start my own IP book by copying everything in Dad’s IP Book.
I spent one whole summer carefully copying one or two pages a day on an old manual typewriter - - - which probably didn’t hurt my typewriting skills, either! But the project bogged down largely after that, and I didn’t make much progress with it over the next 10 years.
25 years ago this month, Dad died, and I managed to talk my brother into letting me have the IP Book "just until I can finish copying it onto computer. Then I’ll give it back, you can keep the original, and I'll make a CD for all of Dad's descendants." And I really *MEANT* to get it done soon . . . And I *did* work on it sporadically from time to time, making intermittent headway.
And then, Sherm was called to the High Council in his Stake, and I told myself, "I have REALLY got to get on the ball and get that book back to him." So, I made a SERIOUS PUSH to get it done, and I *think* he’s only been on the High Council for 3 years . . .
So, when Mom had to undergo some major surgery, and I was the only one who could spent 4-6 weeks with her nursing her through the rehab and therapy, I decided it was the PERFECT opportunity to get some of these long-term goals FINALLY accomplished.
During Mom’s first surgery, I took a tape recorder and a PILE of cassettes, and a book of questions, and got nearly 15 hours of recorded interviews with her, talking about her childhood, memories of her parents and grandparents and siblings, her courting years, me and my brother as babies - - - stuff I’d never known before. I guess my NEXT major project can be typing all of THAT up . . . !
During Mom’s second surgery, I took the last half of Dad’s IP Book, and I sat there, day after day, copying and typing, and sometimes categorizing while Mom watched one news report after another. And by the time I came home just before Christmas, I was close enough to finished that it only took a few more days to complete the task.
I shipped the Original IP Book, with Dad's handwritten notes (which was what he was really interested in having), off to Sherm with my blessings and thanks, and in February began the NEXT task: organizing the contents so they would be usable.
That has kept me occupied for the last 6 months, mostly on Sundays. This last Sunday, when I went to polish off the last 25 pages, I discovered, to my shock and horror, that the file had become corrupted -- I had lost 9 pages of material, and I had no idea whatsoever what was on it. But, God blessed me to be able to find one of the documents I had typed in St. George in my recycle bin that appears to have 90% of what was lost on it, and I found the other half of one corrupted poem online, so if I am missing anything, it isn’t much.
This afternoon,40 years after I copied my first quote from it . . . .
25 years after Dad died and I took possession of it . . .
5 years after I said "THIS is the year I FINISH IT . . ."
I truly completed copying Dad’s I. P. Book.
Now all that remains is to have Derrin turn it into a searchable book-on-CD so that our posterity can actually get some USE out of, so all my work doesn't just sit on a shelf.
(He says that’s EASY to do . . .)
* I. P. = Instant Preparation. The idea being, if you keep this book with you, you are ready at a moment's notice to stand up and give a talk on any subject at any time, complete with humorous stories, poignant poems, and scriptural references.