Friday, January 19, 2018
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Of course, Jo Maeder didn’t really marry her mother. Photo of Jo Maeder with Mama Jo, subject of the memoir “When I Married My Mother” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) But, for lack of a father, she did everything a spouse would have done to take care of her mother, when, at 79, it became clear her mother could no longer live alone. She left her career as a DJ in New York City, bought and refurbished a house in North Carolina to be near her brother, and moved her mother out of Richmond to set up housekeeping together. Such a decision usually involves convincing a parent they need taking... (Read More ...)

It is, perhaps, no surprise that a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist from the New York Times can write about his Southern family in a way that makes you love them and forgive them their trespasses. The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Rick Bragg rose from reporting for his high school newspaper to being a journalist in the Atlanta bureau of the New York Times  and best-selling author. He comes to understand, if not forgive, why his father was broken by the horror of the Korean War and tried to drown his memories in alcohol and anger. He is in awe of the dogged work ethic... (Read More ...)

A Coin. In keeping with this week’s review of a memoir of growing up in the Great Depression and World War II years, in which June Kilpatrick tells the stories of things that she has kept for their memories, like her mother’s ruby and pearl ring, is this poem about memory. Filsinger, Sara Teasdale, Mrs., portrait photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)   The Coin   Into my heart’s treasury I slipped a coin That time cannot take Nor a thief purloin, — Oh, better than the minting Of a gold-crowned king Is the safe-kept memory Of a lovely thing.   Sara Teasdale, reprinted... (Read More ...)

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Why Would You Put Butter In the Well? You would put butter in a well if you had no electricity and lived too far out in the country for a weekly purchase of ice to keep everything cold. June Pair Kilpatrick’s memoir about growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, Wasps in the Bedroom, Butter in the Well: Growing Up During the Great Depression, describes this low point among the 21 places she lived the first 21 years of her life. “While my parents,… no doubt, wondered if they would ever again be able to leave the rural life they had both escaped... (Read More ...)

Writing As A Way of Healing Most of the cancer survivor memoirs I read recommend keeping a journal. D. H. Lawrence, world famed author (1906) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The cancer journey is intense. Part of its challenge is keeping your morale up during what is probably the most difficult time in your life. Louise DeSalvo has written a book about how to write your memoir as an exercise in healing past hurts. Her Hunter College students, where she is an English professor, write about rape, abuse, the death of a family member. The premise of her book, Writing As a Way of Healing: How Telling Our... (Read More ...)

Fishing. Sunday Dinner. Wedding Dress. Pennies from a Heav’n. If a grandfather wanted to tell his children and grandchildren something about what he had learned about family, how would he do it? Pennies If he is a former priest and author, he writes a book. And, that is what Marvin Josaitis, PhD, did. He wrote a memoir. How Did He Do It? What if you wanted to write a memoir to pass on the lessons you have learned? How would you go about it? Reading Dr. Josaitis’s book will give you a model for how it can be done well. How Do You Integrate All the Stories? Inevitably, there will be scores of... (Read More ...)

How Do You Know Christmas Is Here? Christmas Gift! Little Girl Whispers to Santa Ferrol Sams, then a sixty-six-year old grandfather, wrote Christmas Gift! in 1989. My sister-in-law, who passed away this past summer, gave it to her mother that year for Christmas, as a book of shared memories of Christmases in Georgia. Told by an Atlanta-area physician and author, the book is a memoir for his grandchildren about the rituals of Christmas when he was growing up before and during the Depression. Cutting down the tree in their woods a week before Christmas brought the smell of fresh cedar in the house,... (Read More ...)

A contrast enhanced CT scan of the brain, demonstrating the appearance of a Meningioma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Liz Holzemer, wife of Major League baseball player, Mark Holzemer, learned she had a baseball-sized brain tumor that she had had for ten years when she was 32 years old, after surviving breast cancer in her 20s. Her practical and humorous memoir, Curveball: When Life Throws You a Brain Tumor, takes you through the seven-year period after diagnosis when she had two surgeries, had two children, founded a non-profit support forum, Meningioma Mommas, started a research effort to study the... (Read More ...)

Poster promoting early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, showing a rooster crowing at sunrise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Annette Leal Mattern is a two-time cancer survivor. First, ovarian cancer. Then, eleven years later, ovarian cancer again, masquerading on her pancreas. She wrote her memoir, Outside the Lines…of Love, Life, and Cancer, in 2003, after her second bout with cancer in 1998. I was captivated by her dynamic presence at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Conference in 2010. What Else Did She Do? Her book, while it provides an overview of the surgery and chemotherapy journey,... (Read More ...)