Thursday, April 10, 2014

"THE LIVING MEMORIES PROJECT: Healing By Doing". Guest Post by Author Meryl Ain

The Living Memories Project: Healing By Doing.

It has been 50 years since The Beatles first visited the United States, but their music is as alive as ever. Although the Beatles stopped performing as a group in 1970, and John Lennon and George Harrison have passed, their music is today enjoyed by both those who saw them perform, and their children and their grandchildren.
The power of music to evoke memories is great, and one of the most moving of the Beatles’ songs is Let It Be, Paul McCartney’s tribute to his mother, Mary, who died from an embolism when he was 15. After his mother came to him in a dream during a difficult time in his life, he wrote the song to share her advice with the world. Each time the song is performed, played or heard, it keeps alive the memory of his mother: “And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”
Not everyone can write and perform a song, but when my mother died after a brief illness, I wondered how I could pay tribute to her – in my own way. So I decided to ask others how they carry on the values and legacies of their loved ones. I enlisted my husband, Stewart, and my brother, Arthur, to join me in researching and writing The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last.
The book shows how others have harnessed their grief, transforming it into meaningful action and living legacies.The Living Memories Project describes through interviews, anecdotes, essays, poems and photographs, the many ways that 32 individuals – celebrities and others  keep alive the memories of loved ones.  Some are huge projects; some are small ones.
For example singer/songwriter Jen Chapin, the daughter of the late folk rock icon Harry Chapin, tells how she keeps her father’s memory alive through his music and his commitment to social justice.
“I have so many ways of communing with him and I know he is proud of me. I have an ongoing dialogue with him and read his speeches about social justice and they are so much today—what he wrote about and sang aboutthey are so current and I feel so connected. I have ongoing dialogue through my own work. So in a way I am privileged he was a public person and, almost every time I perform, someone comes up and speaks of him and remembers him.…”
Others in our book have established foundations, endowed scholarships, relied on favorite sayings, created works of art, made recipes, or simply looked at photographs. The point is that there is no such thing as closure; those we love are in our hearts and minds forever.  Carrying on their work or doing something positive in their memory not only serves as a fitting tribute, but also is a powerful healer.
The research and writing of The Living Memories Project has been therapeutic and cathartic for me and for my coauthors. We hope that it will help others by showing readers how to find comfort and meaning through honoring the memory, values, and legacy of their loved ones.

About The Living Memories Project
Title: The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last
Authors: Meryl Ain, Stewart Ain, & Arthur M. Fischman
Publisher: Little Miami Publishing
Pages: 196
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

Three years after the death of her mother, Meryl Ain was still unable to fill the hole that the loss had left in her life.  In talking to friends, Meryl discovered an insight shared by those who had successfully overcome grief; there simply is no closure.  It was a breakthrough for her. She writes, “Our loved ones will always be with us if they are not forgotten. It is up to us to integrate them into our lives in a positive way that reflects their unique personality, values and spirituality. In that way we keep them alive in our hearts and minds always.”
Meryl enlisted the help of her brother, Arthur Fischman, and her husband, Stewart Ain, and began a quest to interview people who had moved beyond mourning through meaningful action. The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last by Meryl Ain, Ed.D., Arthur M. Fischman, & Stewart Ain (March 2014, Little Miami Publishing Company, Trade Paperback, 196 pages, $18.95, ISBN:978-0-9882553-7-1) is a result of that research.
The Living Memories Project presents more than 30 interviews with both celebrities and others who share their experiences and the projects they undertook to memorialize their loved ones. The authors have sought to demonstrate that any tribute, big or small, can be a meaningful way to preserve memories of loved ones. Establishing a foundation or scholarship, using a recipe on a particular holiday or family occasion, creating artwork, embarking on a project or even an entire career – all could be traced to a specific talent, interest or value of the deceased Each chapter offers a rich first-person history that will engage and inspire readers of all faiths.
Among them are:
  • Linda Ruth Tosetti, who made a documentary film about her grandfather, Babe Ruth, to highlight his humanitarian side – a value she cherished and believed was often overlooked in Babe’s biography. Ruth was a German-American, who publicly denounced the Nazi persecution of the Jews in 1942.
  • Liz and Steve Alderman, who established the Peter C. Alderman Foundation to honor the memory of their 25-year-old son, who was killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. The foundation trains doctors and establishes mental health clinics on four continents to treat PTSD.
  • Eileen Belmont, a quilt designer who helps others preserve their memories of deceased loved ones through the creation of memory quilts.
  • Singer/songwriter Jen Chapin (daughter of the late folk rock icon Harry Chapin), who carries on her father’s legacy of music and feeding the hungry.
  • Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma (sister of Yo-Yo Ma), who keeps the memory of her father and music teacher /mentor alive through the Children’s Orchestra Society and her poetry.
  • Robert Meeropol (son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed as spies by the US Government in 1953), who established the Rosenberg Fund for Children to help children whose parents are imprisoned.
  • Author, actor and raconteur Malachy McCourt, who presents his unique take on how he keeps alive the memory of his brother Frank (Angela’s Ashes) through the Irish tradition of song and story.
Not everyone can create a foundation, fund an orchestra or make a documentary film, but the authors’ hope is that readers will find inspiration from the wide range of actions they read about. The authors are currently compiling narratives for the second volume of The Living Memories Project and welcome input from readers.

About Meryl Ain
Meryl Ain wrote her first poem in the third grade and has been writing ever since. She is a blogger for Huffington Post and often writes about families, parenting, children, and education. After she lost both her father and mother within a year-and-a-half, she decided to research how others keep alive the memories of their loved ones. She enlisted her husband, Stewart, and her brother, Arthur Fischman, to join her in researching and writing The Living Memories Project, Meryl earned a BA from QueensCollege, a MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She began her career in education as a social studies teacher before she became an administrator. She and her husband Stewart live on Long Island and have three sons, three daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

Their latest book she co-authored with Steward Ain and Arthur M. Fischman is the nonfiction, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last.

Visit their website at

Twitter: @LivMemoriesProj

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