Marching ahead; glimpsing behind

Yes, sometimes it’s hard for me to temper my excitement to share news, like a new book release, with the concern that it may be too soon to share. Oh well. It is my book and my news, after all! The punchline is: I am thrilled to let supporters like you know that Bedazzled Ink will publish my next book early in 2024!

This feels particularly profound today on the eve of the two year anniversary of Mom’s final day. Mom died two years ago tomorrow. She was the one person to whom I read the earliest drafts of My Music Man and Beyond the Ripples, even before they were accepted for publication. She was the first one I told when I received the contract for Humanity’s Grace, but she died before it was released. Mom was the one who offered up vocabulary advice: she had a much better handle on the use of words than I, and her spelling powers shined until close to the end of her life, even with dementia.

At the risk of sharing too much too soon, here’s an excerpt from the preface of From First Breath to Last: A Story About Love, Womanhood and Aging (working title).

Last night I dreamt about my mom. In the dream, I knew she wasn’t going to be around much longer. She told me she still wanted to write one book. One more book. The way she said it, I knew she was asking for my approval. In the dream I said, “I’d love to help you if you want, Mom.” Yes, that would be lovely, Mom told me. And here we are.

A year or two before Mom died, I pitched to her that maybe we should write a book together. My idea then was sharing our mother-daughter and aging journey, knowing I would do most of the writing but she would offer insights. Soon after I wrote a few blogs, mostly about her from my viewpoint but with her approval. I never got to the book. In the last months of Patty’s life, she lived in our house, and I started outlining and prewriting what that book might be, unsure that it ever would be written. I felt the subject to be tired, over written: what new could I say about our mother-daughter expedition that hasn’t yet been said? Mom died and I left those early musings alone for seven months. Recently I began wondering if it might be a future project, but still unsure.
Until last night’s dream.

I recently read the book Peony in Love, by Lisa See. As I completed its final pages, I was struck by the serendipity of timing: my writing often informed by feelings that overcome me while reading other work. And as See shares the publishing of words by ancestor wives no longer alive, why not allow my own mother, who died in 2021, to inform this book?

This book is not a “how to” but might be thought of as a long essay about Mom and my relationship, and the generations we were born into that informed the kind of women we became. Patty was unique among her contemporaries, yet one who faced the same expectations and barriers. I was born thirty years later, facing expectations and barriers different to Patty’s generation, and different than my own daughters born thirty years later. This book is influenced by hundreds of pages of Patty’s own unpublished memoir: her hopes, dreams, wishes, and lessons. Included are Patty’s words directly excerpted from her memoir, her 1994 book (Mythmaking: Heal Your Path, Claim Your Future) and her 1986 doctorate dissertation (The Experience of a Critical Event Leading to Dramatic Midlife Career Change for Women.) My own words further define how our two lives weaved together up through her final days. In sharing this story, I too share the challenges faced as we adult children age along with our parents, including our loved ones with dementia, without judging the different decisions we inevitably make. As I wrote this and selected passages to share, I wrote with both honesty and sensitivity as I imagined how Mom might too write it if she were in the room with me. I will look to my dreams to know how well I did.

From First Breath to Last (excerpt), coming in 2024

How many dates have been emotionally charged for us forever because of things that have happened in our lives? For me the month of March will never quite be the same. Dad was born on March 2, 1930 and Mom on March 28, 1933. Mom died on March 6, 2021. If my good friends at Bedazzled Ink are tuning in here: perhaps March 2023 might be an appropriate month to launch From First Breath to Last! In the meantime, I look for the last of the snow to melt and those first signs of spring – crocus, daffodil and tulip – and my growing new grandson to remind me of the beauty in living today.

I hope to see you next Saturday, March 11 at the West Linn Public Library’s Read Local Author Fair. Come visit with me and 14 other local authors about our writing processes and our books. I’ll have copies of My Music Man, Beyond the Ripples and Humanity’s Grace on hand to sign and sell. After all, it’s always a good day to go to a favorite library.

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