October 11, 2016
Yesterday one of my friends asked, “Whatever possessed you to write a book?” And this is the story that came rolling out. Be careful the questions that you ask. I’m likely to answer!!
When I was ten years old, my mother’s oldest brother Ralph Moody wrote that he was coming east to sign the final papers with W.W. Norton to publish his first book Little Britches. My parents let me out of school for the day to meet him, and although I was shy at first, I fell madly in love with this handsome, charismatic uncle. Little Britches went on to become a best-selling book along with the rest of his series of family stories, which you can still find on Amazon.com.
I forgot to say that he fell in love with me, too, this lanky ten year old with blonde hair, pulled back in a knot on one side of my head. But he did! He wrote to me telling me about the flight back to San Francisco, his family on the west coast, and some thoughts about the next book. I was a middle child so I wasn’t used to be treated like an adult, much less a friend. I wrote back and told him how much I liked him and sent him a poem I’d written about the great oak tree in our back yard. Along with the poem, I told him that I wanted to be a “big writer” like him when I grew up.
It took some time for him to respond but when he did he told me how delighted he was with the poem—‘that he could almost reach out and touch it’—and that he agreed he thought that I would become a writer and ‘maybe even beat him out some day.’
This letter became my dream. I went on to win the first place for my graduation essay from grade school. Then I won the essay contest as a junior in High School. From there I went to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and signed on as an English Major. When my professor accused me of plagiarizing my paper on “Motivation,” I got out of the accusation when she realized that if I had plagiarized my paper I would have copied the spelling and punctuation correctly. I got a D- for the paper and a D- for the course. This was my first rabbit hole.
I married a young minister, Rev. Harvard Lesser right out of college and became embroiled in the life of a small church parish and having children—two daughters—along with a foster daughter. The relationship did not work out well and I sought a divorce after thirteen years of marriage. My second rabbit hole!
About two years later I met Sy Kessler in a divorce support group and this is where my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: a Memoir begins. (Reviews coming in are saying it is a ‘must read’) The book is about Sy and me and the trials and joys of raising our five daughters in a blended family.
We had been married for some time when Sy dared me to write a column on something psychological for our local monthly advertising newspaper. That was the start of my column, ‘Tidbits from the Couch.’ After seventeen years, my editor explained that he needed my space for advertisement and discontinued the column. Third painful rabbit hole! But life keeps moving.
In September of 2013, Sy and I had sold our beloved house, Annebelle (also something you will read about in my book) and moved to the dream house we had built in Center Town, following a daughter into her new life there. Sy died suddenly in the hospital two months later. My fourth and most painful rabbit hole!!
As the first year anniversary of Sy’s death was approaching I could feel the dark depression rolling toward me and thought ‘I’ll just sit down and write about our love story—his grandson Robbie will not likely remember him and this way he will have the story.’
So I’m suggesting that you bless your ‘rabbit holes’—those things in life you trip over, landing flat on your face and wondering how do you get up—because each one of mine have caused me to grow, expand, reinvent myself and come out in a place farther along on the journey than I would have gotten without the holes. If I had become a writer just out of college I would have had nothing to say. –And by now you may be thinking that would have been good!! But someone asked why I decided to write a book and you can see it was the dream set when I was ten years old. May you be so blessed!!