Dear Shiela – By @shein_dean
By Dean Shein
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.
From the 26th of August 2019 till September 4th we went on a journey. We did the impossible. We produced a children’s book for my mum Michelle’s 60th Birthday. In those 9 days we messaged every day. We Skyped hundreds of times. We were a team, but I must say, as difficult as it was for me to perfect the script, nothing compared to the mammoth task I had set you. I’m at advertising school at the moment and we always joke that the relationship between the writer and the illustrator isn’t 50:50. In this case it certainly wasn’t. I genuinely have no idea how you were able to create 18 beautiful pictures in that amount of time. You have to tell me your secrets. But it’s not just that, the quality of each image was simply wonderful.
I remember the last 24 hours. It felt like the deadline of our lives. We were Olympians and this was our race. I remember rushing from my place to sit in a café near the book binding place. I remember frantically chatting back and forth. Perfecting our craft. I remember going to the book binding place with it still not finished. I remember sweet-talking Natalie and her team at ‘City Binders’ so you could use that extra time to put the finishing touches on the book. I remember Natalie saying that it would be bound tomorrow, even though it needed to be in so much earlier that day. I remember letting you know that my name was spelt wrong just before we printed it. It was going to be ready just before they closed on Friday the 5th. I was leaving early on the 6th for Italy to begin the celebrations with Mum, Dad and the family.
I remember collecting it the next day. All bound and ready. The book of a lifetime. I grabbed a beer and some chips and sat on a bench by the River Thames. Watching boats go by as the sun was setting. We had done it. You had done it Shiela. Your efforts, especially towards the end were absolutely remarkable. You sure do have nerves of steel. Together, we’d made my Mum the most wonderful children’s book. The ‘Maddo’ Book.
Now it was time to give it to Mum with the whole family there. Arriving in Como with it hidden in my backpack, I couldn’t wait. Each day neared closer to Mum’s birthday. Time is an illusion. It was going so quickly with our impending deadline and yet it took forever to reach Mum’s Birthday. Finally, September 9 arrived.
That day we woke up and went for a stroll into town, in Lake Garda. Then we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel. After that we walked up through the mountains. A casual lunch followed. We played some croquet and then had a scotch in the library.
And then finally it was time. I asked everyone to be ready a bit earlier than Mum before her Birthday dinner. We set up a table in the small library. I then placed her book on a shelf in-between other big leather-bound books. I then made everyone
pretend they we were reading their book. We went around the room taking turns to say what we were reading. Then I asked Mum if she wanted a book. She did. I lead her to the shelf and we both spotted the wild green spine and removed it from the shelf. It took a few magical seconds for her to process what was happening.
We arrived at the table, sat down, and signed the book together. Mum and I then took turns reading every page. We reminisced with the whole family about each memory that was shown below. Mum and I looked at one another and smiled. There were many laughs and many tears. Then we all drank a L’Chaim. An extraordinary 60th Birthday dinner followed.
And so Shiela,
It’s about time that I say thank you properly. Really, Thanks for everything. I mean it.
Happy New Year to you! When are we starting my Mum’s 65th Birthday book? I promise you I’ll give you more notice this time.