"I am not a Hemingway," Prescott resident Barbara Wilson says.
Yet her memoir, "Goodbye My Home Forever," belies her self-appraisal as a writer. A novice author, Wilson demonstrates emotion, heart and talent in relating her family's saga of conviction and courage as they fled their native Slovenia during World War II.
Reading her words is like a conversation with a friend who is telling you the story of her life over a cup of coffee.
Wilson's new book began as a personal diary after her father died. "As you start writing, you remember more and more of your past," she said. "When I started writing, memories came back. I wanted to honor my parents."
Her memoir begins on her flight to Chicago in 1979 to attend her father's funeral. Once the plane took off, she said she "had time to reflect on what had happened to my family and me since our escape from war-torn Yugoslavia in June, 1942."
Wilson's older brother and her mother had both died years earlier. Now that her father, too, was gone, "a large part of the true story of our flight from the terrors of partisan occupation was gone. My parents would never discuss the painful past ... As my memories went back to that time, so many years ago, I could think only of that tall strong Father I followed almost around the world, and now that frail body and brave spirit were gone."
Her beloved father, Rudolf Flajnik, whom his nine children called "Tata," and her mother, Barbara, come to life in the chronicle of their odyssey that Wilson has penned, piecing together family history from the time of Rudolf and Barbara's arranged marriage in August 1919.
"The marriage had been an arranged affair," Wilson writes, "but it was also a life-long love story filled with devotion and respect for one another."
It was that love and devotion that carried the family from the terror of war to America and to Prescott in the early 1950s after they fled Slovenia. "It was a truly incredible journey," Wilson said of her parents escape with nine children. But, when they settled in Prescott, "it was a real home" again, she said.
The night they left their Slovenian home, Wilson said she looked behind and saw her house in the shadows. "I didn't think I was leaving forever."
Now, all that remains of her family's home is an apple tree that her father planted in 1941. She and her children will visit her homeland in May 2010. And even though she has returned to her country once before, this will be her first visit to see that apple tree and the church she attended as a child.
Wilson laughs that she has gone from "B" to "A." She has been a beautician in Prescott for 50 years - and now she is an author. She completed her memoir by hand, sitting at her kitchen table, in clear, concise English, a language she learned after first learning Spanish when she came to Prescott and worked in a laundry where that language was customary.
Wilson's memoir is available by calling her at 445-8475.
She said she is not interested in making a profit on "Goodbye My Home Forever." She just hopes to break even on what it cost her to print it. More important to her is the honor of having her family's story in the Library of Congress. Just as meaningful to her is that her daughters, Stacie and Cindy, have a written account of their roots in their mother's own words. At the end of "Goodbye My Home Forever," Wilson wrote: "I hope to leave a legacy in this story for my family and my daughters' families. This is our Flajnik story for you, Cindy and Stacie."
Wilson is among a plethora of authors across Yavapai County who have let their words flow - in all genres - into published books. With this article begins a series that will run periodically in The Daily Courier featuring these people and their books.