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Lorna Sikkema poses with her book “Lorna June” at a recent book signing. The book is a memoir of her first 80 years, including growing up and raising children in Fulton, Illinois.

FULTON, Ill. — It was a long time coming for Lorna Sikkema — 80 years in fact.

The Fulton native made her professional homecoming last week with a book signing of “Lorna June”, a memoir of her first 80 years.

The five-year, self-published project from Sikkema follows her growth from what she called an “unloved” childhood into the person she is now.

“It’s a life of starting off feeling unloved by my parents and not very smart and how I was able to grow into the person that I am now, which I feel very lucky to have the career I have and to raise the wonderful kids I have and wonderful grandkids and great-grandkids,” Sikkema said.

Sikkema now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan but grew up in Fulton and has adult children still living in the area. She said that originally the book “Lorna June” was meant to be for family members as a family history but her kids spurred her on to publish it wider.

“I started doing it for my kids and my family and it just kind of evolved to a whole book,” Sikkema said.

A lot of the work put into the book was looking back on old journals and calendars, something she said kept the timeline of the book consistent.

Sikkema’s longtime friend Wendy Ottens, owner at Sweet Woodruff, where the book signing was held, said those fine details made the book wonderful for her.

“Lorna was my neighbor growing up, and was like my second mom,” Ottens said. “The book was wonderful for me because I recognized all of the people. It is part of a history of Fulton that happened during her life.”

She said the initial response from those who have read the book has been overwhelmingly positive.

“(People) are telling me that ‘you had an eventful life’, ‘I couldn’t put the book down’,” Sikkema said.

Another part of the process of opening up her life through the book was the questions that people have asked after reading.

“I told people to ask me questions and nothing was off limits when I put it out there,” Sikkema said.

Sikkema said that even though she has written about a large portion of her life, there is still so much more to say.

Ottens said the book is a story of an inspirational woman.

“She is such a inspiration of telling you that you can do anything. The book definitely shares her ability to overcome hardships and just problems in life and keep stepping forward. She does a wonderful job of that,” Ottens said.

“Lorna June” is available locally at Sweet Woodruff, 1102 Fourth St., Fulton.