Memoir speaks to the heart
"I keep getting these very strange feelings that everyone will read my diary. Not that I mind - I don't - because I think it would be rather fun, but I just get these strange feelings that I'm going to die over here and never see anyone I love again. It's very real. It's like I have a secret no one else knows. But whatever happens, I know I'll be fine and I want you to know that too. Maybe I'm just feeling fearful or apprehensive. It's strange... I feel like I'm writing this for someone else to read.
Lorraine Walton, 25 March, 1980
THERE'S nothing quite as strong as a parent's love for their child, or as deep as their grief should their child pass away before their time.
It was that grief that led Banora Point woman Yvonne Walton to compile and publish the memoir of her daughter, Lorraine Walton, who tragically died some 34 years ago after contracting melanoma.
A vivacious, beautiful and loving woman, Lorraine was on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling the world, when tragedy struck. It was in the early 1980s when she was first diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer, one that led to her untimely demise in August 1984.
Always harbouring a love of writing and a desire to be an author, Lorraine was a good communicator, sending countless letters home to her mum and sister, Barbara, while keeping a diary to record and explore her innermost thoughts.
It is her journey of self-discovery, one with which we can all identify, that is followed in the poignant and touching memoir titled Lorraine - A Free Spirit, co-written and published by her mother some 30 years later.
Yvonne Walton had kept every one of the numerous letters and postcards she received from her adventurous daughter, compiled and sent while she was living and working in Paris. A free spirit, Lorraine's dream had always been to travel the world, to see seek out new pastures and to have fun.
And fun she was having. After qualifying as a teacher in Sydney, Lorraine packed her bags and decided to head to Europe: a rite of passage for many Australians. There, living and working as an English teacher in Paris, she fell in love with a Frenchman and was engaged to be married.
Her love of writing, and her love for her mum and sister, ensured her adventures and mishaps were well recorded, through a barrage of letters, postcards and diary entries, in an age before email and social media. Knowing her daughter may one day like to publish a book, and upon the suggestion of Lorraine, Yvonne kept every one of those communications, fastidiously filing them in date order and storing them in her study over the years.
It is these voluminous files - all five of them - that form the basis of Lorraine's memoir.
"All I had to do was compile them," said Yvonne, now 91.
"They are absolutely priceless. To see the book published it just makes it complete for me. She (Lorraine) would have loved that. She just loved to write, to put her thoughts and feelings and ideas down on paper. It's Rainey's story and she tells it herself. I just compiled it."
The story tells the tale of a young woman, her journey through life, and love, before being diagnosed with melanoma.
It tells the story of her struggle to fight cancer, her ups and downs and her ultimate demise, passing away in the US city of San Diego in August 1984.
"Compiling the book was like a healing for me," Yvonne said.
"It was quite cathartic, we had lots of laughs and many tears. It is a story of life."
The book, published and for sale online and in bookshops on the Tweed and Gold Coast, has already resonated with readers across the world.
"We've had a number of notes from random people who found this story resonated with them," said Barbara Croghan, Lorraine's younger sister.
"We heard from a man in Ireland who had done similar things to Rainey. He was looking to write his own memoir when he stumbled across her story."
For Yvonne, publishing the book helps fulfil Lorraine's desire to one day become an author.
"There would be a lot in the book for a lot of people: people with cancer, people who love to travel, love and romance and all the misadventures and scrapes she got into in Paris. She lived life to the full, as short as it was. Intuitively, she might have known her life would be short," she said.
To purchase the book, visit www.lorrainefreespirit.com