Category Archives: Where Memories Meet

Midwest Book Review

I was thrilled to received this review from the Midwest Book Review. (You may have to scroll down the page if you visit the link.)

Critique: Deftly presented with candor and grace, “Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming My Father After Alzheimer’s” is a poignant and personal story that is an informative and absorbing read from beginning to end. Especially recommended for anyone having to struggle with the medical condition Alzheimer’s for themselves or a loved one, “Where Memories Meet” will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that “Where Memories Meet” is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
Susan Bethany
Reviewer
I’d like to once again thank the editor and reviewers at Midwest Book Review for their kind and generous treatment of me and my two books. I highly recommend them. They do not accept payment for their reviews, but will accept postage stamps to help in their mission as “a major Internet resource for publishers, writers, librarians, booksellers, and book lovers of all ages and interests.” (Midwestbookreview.com)
On their website, Midwest Book Review also has posted a long list of other reviewers. If you are an author in need of book reviews, you might find this an excellent resource.

 

Two excerpts from Where Memories Meet

Today marks three years since my father’s last birthday, his 80th.

Where Memories Meet is two stories in one book. It is my memoir of losing my father to Alzheimer’s, and Dad’s account of the defining moments of his life. My story begins at the end of Dad’s life and proceeds backwards in time. Dad’s narration begins with his birth and moves forward in time. Eventually the timelines, or the memories meet. 

These two excerpts concern Dad’s birthday. The first is his account in Part 1: “The End (2013) & The Beginning (1933).” The second is from Part 2: “The Last Year (January 2013 to January 2012) & The Early Years (1933 to 1950)”

Jerry with his parents 1933

JERRY
January 18, 1933

I came in on the 18th day of January 1933, at 715 Manier Avenue, Piqua, Ohio. My Aunt Agnes said that my dad’s mother, my Grandmother Smith, insisted on naming me Jeremiah after my Grandfather Smith. Agnes claimed my Grandmother Wirrig was angry about that. And I might have been named after Jeremiah, but the name on my birth certificate is Jerry Allen Smith. Not Jeremiah.

When my dad was young his father, my Grandfather Smith, was mean to him. My dad was always in trouble and not very controllable. He was in a mental hospital around the age of 17. My mother never knew about that until much later.

My Aunt Agnes said my mother and my father met at a funeral. The first I know about my parents was when they were on top of the Hazell Maria apartments on North Wayne. They had dancing up there. My dad always was a dandy. He liked to dress up. He was a pretty good-looking guy when he was young, and he was quite a good dancer. My mother liked to go to dances on the rooftop. I don’t know if they had a live band, or radio, or what provided the music up there. I didn’t come along until a little bit after that.

My mother was living with her folks on Manier Avenue. They were a devout German Catholic family. And my dad was living with his folks, a devout Irish Catholic family, on Cottage Avenue. In those days the Irish and the German Catholics did not see eye-to-eye. So there was a bit of family discord from the beginning.

My dad wasn’t going to marry my mom, but her father, my Granddad Wirrig, went over and made him, I was told. My granddad, he wasn’t happy about it at all. There was a big fight over there. I caused a lot of trouble. Lots of trouble.

I’m the product of all of that.

My parents got married in September of 1932, and I was born five months later in January. I have no idea if a midwife helped my mother. I was present, but I don’t have a recollection. Uncle Paul said it got a little exciting around the house.

When I was at the age where the likelihood of that happening to me was a real possibility, my Grandmother Smith told me that I shouldn’t be messing with girls. She told me that’s where a guy could get in a lot of trouble—messing with a female.

I didn’t know anything about it when I was just a kid. I had one guy on my paper route call me Shotgun Smith because he knew that my dad had to get married, and he knew whose fault that was. I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about when they called me that. I don’t remember how I found out about that. Things happen. You don’t get a time stamped or nothing, you know.

 

CHRISTINE
January 18, 2013 – Happy Birthday

Mom was buried the day after her funeral Mass, on the morning of Dad’s 80th birthday. We didn’t take Dad with us to the cemetery. It was too long of a drive back to Piqua, and it was too cold. But we plan to celebrate his birthday this afternoon.

Dad likely wouldn’t have known it was his birthday today, except for the birthday bulletin board in the hall and reminders from the Walnut Creek staff. Dates have been a problem for Dad since the very beginning of this. Even though we are emotionally exhausted, we decide to celebrate his birthday in the afternoon when we return from the cemetery.

It all works out for the best. Dad’s adult grandchildren are still in town from the funeral, so we have a pretty good group to celebrate his birthday. We bring a bowl of vanilla pudding for the birthday candles, instead of cake.

Dad’s sister, my Aunt Marilyn, is with him in his room when we arrive. Dad is reclining in his bed. Aunt Marilyn is excited. “Your dad can read, Happy Birthday,” she says. “He’s said it two or three times.” She holds a small balloon with the words printed on it. “What does this say, Jerry?” she asks.

After a brief pause, haltingly, his voice barely above a whisper, and his words shaky and creaky, my father says, “Happy birthday.” It is the last time I will ever hear his voice.

 

 

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Marketing self-published books

Reblogged from Random Thoughts from Midlife.

Marketing continues to befuddle me as I try to promote Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. If my book doesn’t cross a reader’s radar, they won’t know it exists, let alone buy and read it.

Most times when I wade out onto the web with all the marketing and promotion advice for self-pubs, I just get discouraged and walk away. There is a lot of book promotion noise out there on the web. But I’m trying to keep in mind a quote I came across recently:

“The universe is infinite; there is space enough in it for everyone to succeed, including me.”

Read more. . .

 

 

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Two Giveaways

“What made you decide to share your stories as memoirs?”

“What helped you, hindered you in telling your story based upon your truth?”

“What is your main “takeaway” for your readers?”

These are just a few of the questions I answer in Kathleen Pooler’s interview. Kathy is the author of Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse (that I reviewed here). She posted another insightful interview on her blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey. Kathy’s doing good work over there. Of course, the interview was with me, so I might be a bit partial. Or not. You decide. Read it here and leave a comment to enter to win a free signed print copy.

And when you’re finished over there, I hope you’ll visit Cynthia Robertson’s blog where she reviews and is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed print copy of Where Memories Meet. Enter by leaving a comment here.

“Grote has a talent for spot-lighting the sort of intimate and telling details which ring an answering note of emotional recognition in her readers,” Cynthia writes. Again, another talented and insightful writer, in my impartial opinion.

Kathy Pooler’s Interview and giveaway can be read here.

Cynthia Robertson’s review with giveaway can be read here.

 

Review of Where Memories Meet

A big thank you to Don Sloan at Just Free and Bargain Books for his review of Where Memories Meet. He hit all the right points. Don is a retired journalist who now reviews books full time. I hope you will visit his post.

“Where Memories Meet is at once a heartbreaking account of loss due to Alzheimer’s, and a celebration of life, honoring and remembering a beloved father who later succumbs to the insidious disease.

“The style of writing is terse, but not clinically so. This is not a matter-of-fact accounting of a person’s life. It is much more than that. It is a series of remembrances, strung together like Christmas lights, each one shedding just a little more illumination on a remarkable man gone too soon.” Read complete review here.

Fort Jackson and Columbia, S.C. in 1953

As my father tells in his narrative in Where Memories Meet — Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s, he was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when he was first drafted into the army. While he was away from home serving in the US Military, he sent photographs back to my mother.

Leather photo albumShe inserted them into a leather photo album that Dad had hand-tooled and sent to her.

Working on leather purseI’m not sure exactly when this photo was taken, or where, but it shows my father working on a leather purse to send home to my mother.

Here are some photographs from Dad’s time in Columbia, South Carolina: at Fort Jackson, in town, and on a trip to Myrtle Beach. Mouse over a photo to see the caption Dad wrote on the back. Click on a photo to see a larger version, and a manual slideshow.

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A postcard, a story, and another review

THE POSTCARD:

WWM_postcardI wanted to share the postcard my daughter designed for me to help me inform people about Where Memories Meet and ask for reviews. I have to thank Trace Conger for the idea. He writes crime thrillers and is the author of  The Shadow Broker, the first book in a series about a great character named Mr. Finn.  I don’t read a lot of this genre, but I really enjoyed this story.

THE STORY:

I contacted an Amazon Top Reviewer who had reviewed another book about Alzheimer’s to ask her if she would review Where Memories Meet. I told her a little bit about the book, added the postcard, and then said that if she didn’t want to read another story about Alzheimer’s, perhaps she would consider reviewing Dancing in Heaven. I got a response back from her pretty quickly and I thought, uh oh, she probably isn’t interested in either book. I was wrong. She asked to read BOTH books! I don’t use a lot of exclamation points, but that’s how I felt when I saw her response. This publishing experience has helped to rekindle and strengthen my belief in the goodness of humankind, and in particular individuals.

THE REVIEW:

The excerpts from the review I’m going to share with you right now, however, came from someone else altogether. The part I italicized makes me cry. I think it’s because, oh my gosh, she got it. This is tough emotional business. Here is a short excerpt. The entire review is posted on Amazon’s Where Memories Meet page.

“It is Christine Grote’s ability to depict, with honesty and dignity, the struggles and the humanity behind the disease that most hit home for me.

“The book is well written and it was an honor to understand Jerry as the man he was and the man Alzheimer’s affected.

“I highly recommend Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. It reminds us that in adversity we will find our strength.” CarolineS

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