Throughout the three years of my Care Bear experience, I scribbled in a journal at night in order to stave off despair, to keep my sanity; to cut loose the tears that had been bottled up inside while I took care of my dementia-addled mom throughout the day. A few months before she died, a niece-in-law asked to read my scribbles. Jenni planted the seed for me to publish, at least for family and friends. After my mother died, I discovered a cache of letters that I had written her during college and when living out of state. Those letters were my first forays into journaling for I liberally wrote to my mom about both the good and not-so-good events that were a part of my young life at the time. While I was rereading those letters, an ‘aha’ kind of moment fell upon me.
For much of my adult life, my mom had been after me to write a book, any book. Needless to say, she was my number one fan! Technical and procedures manual writing in my earlier career endeavors was the closest that I had come thus far. My ‘aha’ moment occurred about three months after my mom had died. I told myself, ‘Dody, just play with it,’ and then began typing up and printing out my journal. There was no rhyme or reason to the content, the topic covered. Each page contained scribbles relating to the events, thoughts and emotions of the day. My computer had an old version of Word; I was not online at the time so I went to my home-away-from-home, Books-A-Million, to peruse a few books on how to write memoirs. My mind, though, was too addled at the time to focus on any ‘how-to’ process.
The next phase became a cut-and-paste-by-topic, literally, with scissors. Doing jigsaw puzzles while my mom read to me from children’s books had served to relax my mind, relieve my stress. This cut-and-paste process did the same, tending to temper the raw emotions that surfaced within me while I was piecing together this story of the final journey that I took with my mom. Though I became even more emotional scribbling in more of the day-to-day incidences and ordeals, the process was quite cathartic. As dementia took more of a hold on her brain, my mom had become more lost to me; instead, becoming my child. Very tough, writing these segments. There were two occasions in which I had intense emotional meltdowns, actually throwing the entire draft into the garbage can, albeit choosing a clean one J
It got kind of fun after that. Deciding on and naming the chapters, and piecing the segments into an order, was also akin to doing a jigsaw puzzle. It was while typing a more orderly second draft that I finally began to feel some excitement. Proofreading a technical manual had always been fun for me so editing the draft served to ramp up my excitement. The most poignant aspect of this edit phase were some moments in which it felt as if I were being guided by someone, some outside force, to, ‘Take out this section,’ or, ‘Move this chapter here,’ or, ‘Use this word.’
After completing this second edit, I went out one day with a friend into a store that I rarely frequented. Invisible threads of connection were at work again for I ran into a man with whom I used to work. Isaac had recently published his story and excitedly gave me the name of his Indie Publisher, Dr. Phyllis Olmstead. It took a few weeks before I finally made the call. She jumped right into my fray. We met and her excitement fed my own; all was in motion. Phyl massaged the chapters for book-print, suggested I add pictures, and added into the text highlighted key caregiver points. Her respectfulness of my desires made the process a nourishing one. To celebrate, I bought a new laptop and stepped back into the world via the internet.
My choice to listen to an inner urge and fulfill my mom’s long-held wish for me to write a book has opened so many new doors in my life. To me, the experience is akin to noticing a bit of sparkle in a thread that lies amidst a bunch of other thread options. Every time that I pick up the threads that sparkle, around the bend has always been fascinating connections. I’ve developed new cyber skills and discovered the fun of blogging. Cyber folks have added such nourishment to my life; some are now dear friends.
Is there another book lurking around? Thus far, a slew of fanciful short stories written for family and friends have leaped out of my mind and onto a page; and, lately, a few new sparkling threads are catching my eye. Wonder what is around their bend. It is safest to say, 'More will be revealed!' J