Local author Maureen Pocock has a warm and engaging way of telling stories from her life, as reflected in her book Close to My Heart.
The stories are explorations of the people and places that have resonated on a personal level with her in the Lacombe region.
That passion for writing goes back quite a ways, and these days, Pocock is also helping to encourage others to express themselves via the written word through the Lacombe Writers Club.
“I didn’t start writing until after my dad died – in 2008. My mom died just before Christmas in 2006. So I had always been thinking that (these stories) needed to be written down. I would think, I wonder who could do that?”
The answer to that question came about after she signed up for a workshop with author Fran Kimmel.
“I later thought, I can do this. I’ve always liked putting words together,” she explained, adding that there are more stories to be told.
It was also the time when the Lacombe Writers Group was launched and it’s still going strong.
“We meet at the library, every second Thursday at 2 p.m.”
Anyone is welcome to join.
As to her own journey as a writer, “All these things were in my head and I am the keeper of everything,” she said with a laugh, referring to the family memorabilia she has collected over the years. And it’s these memories that have provided so much inspiration, she added.
“I’m living a mile away from where I grew up, and my son and his wife are now living on the farm where I was raised,” she said of the Spring Valley area.
One story in Close to My Heart, called ‘The Soldier’s Diary’, is about her granddad and his lost war diary.
“He was left for dead on the battleground in France, and a German soldier retrieved the diary.”
Pocock said some German writing in the book indicated that the man who took the diary was a stretcher bearer.
“Granddad later recovered and came back here – he had bought a farm before he had gone over to serve in the war,” she said.
“He had also married my grandmother while they were over there, so they came back in 1919 and they raised two boys – my dad and my uncle,” she added.
Amazingly, the lost diary would surface.
“It was in the 1930s. The German soldier had gotten it back to the mayor of Doncaster in England, asking him to please give this back to Robert Hainsworth’s family.
“It happened that Robert was the only one who had ever come to Canada – there were several brothers still in England.”
And so in an unexpected turn of events, the little diary ended up back with its owner.
And speaking of lost personal items surfacing years later, Pocock also writes about her grandmother’s treasured bracelet.
“My granddad had given it to her when they became engaged. Every time she dressed up, she would wear this bangle. You just knew that it was a special day when she would put on her hat and her bangle – that’s what she called it. It was a unique-looking bracelet – rose-gold, and it looked like a belt with a buckle on it.”
Her grandmother eventually settled into seniors’ housing in Lacombe, and one day she told her family that she couldn’t find her bracelet.
Years and years passed.
One day, Pocock was going through some recycling and saw a tiny published notice in a local newspaper about a bracelet found in Red Deer.
The woman who posted the ad later would explain how it was her grandmother who had noticed the bracelet in a gutter outside a restaurant in Red Deer.
When preparing the ad, she was told it could run for three days for free, in the lost and found section. She told them she wanted more than that, so the ad was to run for five days.
Pocock happened to notice the ad on the fifth and final day of its run, and to top it off, it wasn’t even in a newspaper she normally read.
“I called her and there was no answer, so I left a message. She called, and said, ‘Can you tell me about it?’ I said that it looked like a little belt with a little buckle on it – and it’s rose gold. She said, ‘I think I’ve got your bracelet!’ It was meant to happen.”
Ultimately, both the diary and the bracelet are reminders of loved ones and their own particular experiences, she noted, adding that thankfully, they are back in the family’s keeping and a link to a rich heritage.
“I still have those really close connections.”
For more about the Lacombe Writers Group, call Maureen Pocock at 403-885-4251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.