My first ghost-writing assignment is complete, and the book is published. I am so impressed by Butch Batchelor’s tenacity. It was just over a year ago that he contacted me to ask if I would write the story of his daughter, Taryn, who has autism. During that year there were long periods where we couldn’t meet to work, but he never wavered in his determinations to see this project through. Following is the forward I wrote for his book.
When Butch first contacted me to ask if I’d be the ghost-writer for Forever Twelve I was touched by his faith in my ability to write it, but I was also reluctant to accept the invitation. I write novels for teens. I throw one problem after another at my characters but still make everything turn out okay in the end. With a memoir I would need to stick to the facts. Would I be able to write Taryn’s story in a way that was compelling enough to make people want to read it? I did not want to disappoint Butch.
But Butch, being Butch, was very persuasive. We met for coffee and immediately I could sense how devoted he was to his family, and how desperately he wanted Taryn’s remarkable story to be recorded. When he told me that she had ‘crashed through all the barriers’, I was hooked. I wanted to hear her story and I wanted to help Butch tell it.
It was hard work. We spent many hours at my kitchen table as Butch narrated the events of Taryn’s life to date. He told me about the difficult times, and the darkest hours when he didn’t understand what was happening with his little girl, but more often he focused on Taryn’s achievements and the joys of raising her. The message that came through over and over again was how the family’s extended community supported Taryn, and how blessed Butch and his family were to be surrounded by so many caring people.
There were many drafts of Forever Twelve. Butch would repeat the stories and I would do my best to record them accurately, but they weren’t my stories. It felt odd to tell his story in my words, but that’s essentially what I had to do. I struggled to get the details right, to get the time-frame accurate. Butch was always patient, repeating the events until we were both satisfied with the results.
During these sessions I became reacquainted with Butch. He can be very hard on himself, but the man I have come to know has a heart the size of the universe. I always knew that he was an incredibly loyal friend, keeping tabs on a wide circle of friends, but now I also know that he’s a man who lives and breathes ‘family’. Butch and Taryn are truly blessed to have each other.
Most of this story was written before I had the opportunity to actually meet Taryn, and what a delight that initial meeting was. I feel honoured to have had this chance to share in her journey, even if it’s only as the scribe.