Telling Tales

By Vernice Shostal


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Born in Alberta, raised in Saskatchewan and retired to Vancouver Island, former navy wife Bernice Williams has self-published three books and is working on two more.

A prolific writer and chronicler of the life and times of her family and their pets, this mother, grandmother and great-grandmother started writing at the age of 10 when she began to concoct outrageous fairy tales from various family episodes. Encouraged by her mother, a schoolteacher, who taught Bernice a deep appreciation of nature and urged her to finish the stories she made up, Bernice later entertained her own children with stories when they were small.

Her first book, The True Story About the La, was awarded a certificate as one of 10 finalists in Americas Best Picture Book contest (1995). The tale grew from a humorous story Bernice shared with her brother. The La, a dragon that lives in the land of Make Believe, faces scary adventures when he accidentally tumbles off the wall dividing the land of Make Believe from the real world. He gets back to his own world only when he finds a child who does not believe the terrible stories about him.

Dedicated to family members, her Poetry of the Heart, a gleaning of literary poems from a literary family, includes poems of love, nature and humour mostly written by Bernice and includes photos, mostly taken by Bernice. Her fantastical humour tickles the most serious funny bone. One of her poems, Arthur My Avocado, was a result of Bernices success (after several failures) at growing an avocado plant from a pit. Her fondness for the tall, leggy plant with large leaves gave rise to a poem about Arthur, a very social houseplant that grew and grew and, searching for romance, fell in love with a rose.

Based on a true story, Over the Rainbow Bridge, the only book available for purchase, is dedicated to two animals, TC (Top Cat) and Niki, an Alaskan Malamute, and to those people who work faithfully to ensure the best possible life for all animal friends. Bernice played a key role in bringing up TC and Niki who lived with her daughter Jan, and her son-in-law Frank. Saddened, when their two pets died within five months of each other and moved by the poem, The Rainbow Bridge, Bernice wrote Over the Rainbow Bridge in memory of the two animal friends. Over the Rainbow Bridge is currently entered in a national contest.

Bernices role as a navy wife began in 1943 when she married Ralph Williams, a sailor who had already begun his tour as a volunteer in the Royal Canadian Navy. The young couples honeymoon was a train trip to Halifax.

Living in Dartmouth and Halifax while Ralph was at sea, Bernice found a job with the government in the Income Tax Department and later transferred to a job with Imperial Oil. Like other navy wives in those days, Bernice spent a lot of time waiting for the ships to come in and when they did, there was much celebrating. In one of her next books, Bernice intends to use the diary Ralph kept to chronicle their war experiences.

After the war, the Williams moved to Calgary where Bernice devoted her life to raising their four children.

Since Bernice and Ralph moved to Victoria in 1981, they celebrated both their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries at the mystical Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge on Quadra Island, where Bernice feels close to the First Nation history. I feel their ancestry. I can almost hear their tom-toms. I can see it, she says.

Widowed and finding herself alone two years ago, Bernice was faced with the challenge of carving out a new lifestyle. Going to the fitness centre and continuing her hobby of writing wasnt enough to keep her busy, so she took on two new ventures: joining a drama club and, last October, modelling for Curves in their Fashion Show and Silent Auction to raise money for breast cancer.

A talented photographer whose pictures appear in two of her books, Bernice loves to take her camera and walk along the forest trails around Matheson and Beaver Lakes to record the beautiful scenes of nature.

With a fertile imagination and infectious humour, at age 87, Bernice Williams continues to entertain her friends and family, and enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle.

 

 APRIL 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND

 

For more information about Over the Rainbow Bridge by E. Bernice Williams, visit www.blurb.com/tags/bridges

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