What Difference Does Your Story Make?

With endless movies about astonishing lives, what difference does it make if you tell YOUR story? The difference is, of course, that you are unique—and you are astonishing.

But, perhaps more importantly, only if you get that story down in a lasting form will your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and their great grandchildren ever know the story of their precious ancestor—you.

We help you leave the legacy of your life.

You choose the level of our involvement. We can walk you through the applicable steps.

  • Think through your significant life events
  • Write, video or record
  • Transcribe
  • Edit
  • Scan photos
  • Design a professionally produced book and cover
  • Get it printed
  • Set up your personal/family page to sell the book

Your descendents will be thrilled to hold your life story in their hands, take it to class and show off to their teachers, and pass on to their children and grandchildren.

Give us a call at 610.566.7890 or email us at legacy@gabelgraphics.com.

Butting Heads

Russ and Mary

Mary Helgesen Gabel with her father, Russ Helgesen, at his Legacy book signing for his 90th birthday. That book, From Majestic Fjords to the Mighty Mississippi: A Farm Boy from Wisconsin Finds His Roots in Norway, sells on Amazon.

I very nearly wasn’t born.

My father told the story of the storm on the Mississippi many times as I was growing up. But I always received it with a typical teenage eye-roll as in, “Oh, DAD.”

It wasn’t until my father turned 90 that I finally understood the significance of that story. It wasn’t until I read it in a book—his book—that it hit home.

Growing up, my relationship with my father often involved butting heads. So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to take his manuscript, his baby, and help him publish it.

When I came to the chapter “The Angel of the Mississippi,” I was no longer rolling my eyes:

With a storm coming and his parishioners begging him to stay the night, my father could not, even with a wrench, get the gas cap off the little motor boat that he used to cross between churches of his three-point parish. Had he managed, he would have drowned in the raging storm that hit the Mighty Mississippi shortly after his scheduled departure. He would have left my mother a widow and my three oldest siblings fatherless: My brother and I would not exist.

The next morning, he went down to the banks and the gas cap came off with the twist of his fingers.

That was when I really understood the power of the printed word. This story, that was so trite to me as a child, gave me chills when I read it and understood the intervention that gave me life.

Book cover As his story unfolded—of his ancestors in Norway, his father on the farm, his own history of being called to the ministry, meeting my mother, his spiritual struggles and transformation, even the cost of every house they bought and sold—I was so grateful that he wrote his life, his memoirs.

It was a labor of love for both of us and his whole family was there when he signed his book for them on his 90th birthday—5 children, 12 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, along with one remaining sister, nieces, nephews and even some friends. As he signed my copy, it was the last time we butted heads. Our relationship had been transformed.

There are 17 generations in the genealogy included at the end. We will never know more than the names and dates of most of those souls. But for his great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, they will always be able to pick up this book and know his story—the story of their ancestor. My own children beamed with pride as they showed their teachers and friends.

So, this has become my passion: to help people publish their memoirs. I have shared in each author’s excitement as they watched their manuscript turned into a beautifully typeset book with a professional cover, historic photos, and some with a family tree.

If you’ve written your memoirs—or any other manuscript—I would love to talk with you about what it would take to get it into a paper-and-ink printed version that your grandchildren will be thrilled to show their teachers, and your great-great grandchildren will read with relish.

Mary Helgesen Gabel (b. 1953)
daughter of Russell Helgesen (b. 1920)
granddaughter of Paul Helgesen (b. 1890)
great-granddaughter of Jon Høljesen Grovum (b. 1827)
great-great-granddaughter of Hølje Pålson Grovum (b. 1785)
14th (and 16th) great-granddaughter of Jon På Valebjørg (b. 1370)