Jacqui Tam awarded with silver medal at International Independent Publisher Book Awards

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When Jacqui Tam received the silver medal from the International Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) in New York on May 29 for the tenth anniversary edition for her book Standing Tall: A Daughter’s Gift, she wasn’t thinking about herself.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s assistant vice-president of communications, public affairs and marketing was thinking of her father, the man that the book was written for and about.

“It really was, for me, a celebration of his life and all that he has accomplished and taught us and the important role he had played in his life in particular,” Tam said.

Tam lost her father to Alzheimer’s disease in 1994 and has since then searched for a way that he could be remembered.

“My mother, in particular, would actually say that she couldn’t remember what my father was like before he was sick,” she said. “And when she’d say that, I’d think, ‘we have to remember him.’”

The book documents his life before he became sick as well as the time after he was diagnosed. There are components about Alzheimer’s that Tam’s family experienced, in addition to ordinary events in their lives that included her father.

“So on a very personal level, I didn’t want the disease to erase everything he had been and everything he had done.”

Tam explained that the book reflects on her father’s life, focusing on the “remarkable relationship” between father and daughter. The relationship weathered the effects of Alzheimer’s, leading up to his death. However, Tam wanted to emphasize her father’s journey and how she felt about him.

“I always described my father as my very best friend when I was growing up. So we were very, very close. He was a man, in many ways, well ahead of his time,” she said.

One of the reasons Tam believed the book needed to be written was to remember her father as he was- a man filled with respect and integrity.

However, she also wanted his suffering from Alzheimer’s to have a purpose.

“I thought if there was anything that we had gone through that could help somebody else or anybody else going through it, it would at least make his suffering mean something.”

The book took Tam over a year to write. After she finished the initial writing, she took a bit more time to fine tune details, resurface components and make sure she was happy with the entire story. The book was published on Jan. 25, 2010.

“It was a combination of a story of his and our family’s journey with Alzheimer’s, but it was also very much a story about what I would describe as a remarkable father-daughter relationship,” Tam said.

With that relationship, Tam focused on what she learned from her father through the years he was sick as well as his well-filled life, which included fighting in a war. And from everything Tam learned from him, she made his story.

“It was a case where I always knew unconditional love, respect, honesty and I could depend on him no matter what,” she said. “And I don’t think a daughter could ever ask for more.”

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