My writing life began as a teacher of young children, but it was not until I retired that I was ready to apply myself seriously to the craft. I wanted to write an historical novel and began to cast about for an idea. I found the inspiration I needed while reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and decided to base an historical novel on my grandmother's early childhood.
I worked a year on the first draft. I wrote without an outline or the support of other writers. Often I could not see what was in store for my characters. At other times, I was stunned by the way seemingly disconnected pieces of the story came together.
I began to listen to the characters. I discovered that their feelings, desires, motivations, even their voices came from somewhere within my unconscious mind, rather than from my thinking mind. I strive to remain open to the wisdom of my characters and trust that they will show me the way.
Even after twelve years, Gemma Enman can still remember her amazement and pride at being singled out from among her siblings by her father to travel with him by train from Prince Edward Island all the way to Brookfield, New Hampshire. But seven year old Gemma had no way of knowing how long and tedious a trip it would be or that her father planned to return to their island home without her.
Now a young woman, Gemma has met and fallen in love with Lionel Maines, a man of honor, integrity, and prospects. As Gemma and Lionel plan for their future together, Gemma continues to be haunted by her past.
She knows that before she can fulfill her pledge to Lionel, she must keep a promise to herself.
Grace is convinced her father is involved in the illegal alcohol trade and fears his activities will lead to his arrest. Should this happen, her grandparents, civic leaders and trusted merchants in town, would be disgraced. And what about her relationship with Jerome? Even if he still cared for her after the family's downfall, Grace would feel unworthy of his regard.
With her family's reputation and her own happiness at stake, Grace seeks to discover the extent of her father's dealings with the inscrutable Rafe Ramsey. Has she acted in time to preserve her comfortable life in Chester or have the seeds of her family's ruin already been sowed?
I've published a series of short memoir pieces on Amazon about my experiences taking care of my mother during the last years of her life. She lived in Virginia and I was here in Vermont, often worried and always wondering how she was managing. These stories take us from the time she lived independently in senior housing, through the year or so she was in assisted living, and finally to the time when she came to Vermont to the nursing home.
Most of the pieces were drafted during or soon after my visits to Virginia. They convey the confusion, frustration, and guilt I felt as I witnessed my mother's rapidly declining health and struggled with her unwillingness to move to the next level of care.
These are not happy stories, but they are one version of the almost universal experience of looking after an aging and ill parent.
If there is a message here, it is that we are not alone and that there is no one way to meet the challenges of caring for an ailing loved one.