Gifting “Dad’s War Photos”

Neal BertrandFor the past three years, I’ve been working on the biggest book project I’ve ever undertaken. You might call it a labor of love. I finally finished it and received a copy from the printer just before Christmas. I wanted to give this copy to a very special person in my life.

The book is about my father’s tour of duty during WWII in the South Pacific. His name was Curtis Bertrand and he was just a country boy with a camera when he entered the U.S. Army. He returned home from the Southwest Pacific Theater with 600 pictures to share with his folks, never realizing the importance these unique views of the war would provide.

So who is this very special person I gave the book to? She’s my sister Karen, my only sibling. On Christmas Day, the whole family was gathered at her house. We had just finished giving out presents to all the kids: her grandchildren and my great-nieces and nephews. I hushed all the excitement with, “Okay everybody, look here, I have a present I want to give to MiMi.”

I reached behind the sofa and grabbed a gift bag. The book was hidden under crinkly green gift paper. I handed the bag to Karen. She took it, delicately lifted the paper out, and removed the book. She exclaimed, “Oh, you finished it!” She came and hugged me and whispered in my ear, “Thank you for all your hard work.” And then she cried for a while, thinking of our dad and how much he would have enjoyed seeing the book with his photos so prominently displayed.

This was a great emotional reward for me. It made all the tireless work of getting the book to press worth it! And I felt so blessed to be able to give this book as a Christmas gift to my very special sister.

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