By collecting memories over the years, a grandmother has created a most treasured gift for her grandson on his graduation day.
Carolyn Rodgers, known to many in Stephens County as the Crapemyrtle Lady, wrote her memories and published a book, “Maverick Corley’s First 18 Years” for her grandson, Maverick Corley.
Rodgers said she wanted a way to mark memorable moments between visits with her grandson, and in doing so, she wrote about their lives growing up together.
Rodgers said with them living in Duncan and Corley living in Denver, she wanted to create a type of family history book for these 18-year-olds. She said living so far apart she knew visits would be infrequent, so writing about each visit was therapeutic for her.
“I was inspired by his mother,” she said.
Rodgers said it started when she wrote about how she felt in her baby book after she was born, which later led her to write about every visit they had together, whether it was to Duncan or in Denver.
“What I would do is take copious notes and when I leave Denver I’ll come home and put them on my computer,” she said. “If he was there, after he left, I would take the notes and type everything.”
Rodgers shared how she incorporated all the little details from each of the visits that she otherwise might never have remembered if she hadn’t written them down during those times.
“Since I was going to be a distant grandmother, I wanted to capture those special moments until she graduated from high school,” she said.
According to Rodgers, the book has a lot of family history, but it also became a bit of a love story.
“The love a grandmother has for her grandchild – no matter how hard life is, Maverick could always open the pages to reveal undying love and devotion,” she said.
Rodgers shared how the book collects memories of phone calls, called “Telephone Magic,” as well as special moments with a new puppy.
“I wrote a letter to his pup to read to his little pup,” she said.
The book collects memories of Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, summer visits, as well as different toys Corley played with, movies they saw together, meals they ate together, scriptures, letters and Moreover.
“I just continued, because I thought it was too valuable a book,” she said.
Rodgers said that once Corley realized she was taking notes of their visits for a book, he would ask her to read him some of their memories from her book.
Rodgers shared how her grandmother inspired her to be the grandmother she always wanted to be.
“She set the bar high,” she said. “Not just as a grandmother, but as a human being.”
Rodgers said she was always looking forward to being a grandmother, as she was already a grandmother to her grandchildren.
“It’s important to express love in our lives and appreciate the many gifts God has given us,” she said. “Being a grandmother is wonderful.”
Rodgers continued her journaling and compiling notes until 2015 with Corley’s graduation and summer visit.
“The purpose of writing the book is to show unconditional love that will last beyond my lifetime,” Rodgers said.
She said she was grateful for the help from her granddaughter, Madison Vincent, and Dr. Tom Deighan.
“I couldn’t have published this without their help,” she said.
Dr. Deighan said he loved the idea of Rodgers creating a book for his family.
“Carolyn’s idea of producing a book just for family members is truly unique,” he said. “Thanks to modern technology and platforms, it is now affordable and convenient for just about everyone. What an incredible gesture of family devotion and love.
Rodgers said that being able to present this book to her family is an incredible gift and that she is extremely proud of the book and how she finished it, and that everyone is in it.
“Capturing those special moments is amazing,” she said. “There are details that you will never remember in a million years, unless you wrote them down.”
At the end of the book, Rodgers leaves several inspiring “grandmothers” to his family, such as:
• “Life has its ups and downs, but they don’t stay that way forever,” Rodgers said. “Change is always imminent. We have to be strong to get through the bad things and then we appreciate the good while having it.
• “Develop a strong work ethic,” Rodgers said. “Always give more than your employer expects.”
• “Become a good listener,” Rodgers said. “You can hear the words, but you have to ‘listen’ to grasp the true meaning.”