A literary hankering glommed onto me early in my ministry. When parishioners encouraged me to publish prayers penned from my heart, I’d feel my soul expand. Then Bob, my husband and former homiletics professor, would add, “What about including some of your sermons, too?” Yet my personal fear of failure and incessant insecurities would successfully pry loose the hankering. Reality would speak up reminding me, “Pastors will fly across the country to preach but won’t walk across the street to hear a sermon.”
Bob, diagnosed in 2012 with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, died in the Spring of 2018. After caring for him those half dozen years, I realized that my fears and insecurities had also died. We had faced the cultural and personal fear of these diagnoses and come to recognize that our shared love and faith gave us far more than these diabolical forces could steal from us. Now that was something to write about!
My decision to write caused invisible antennas to pick up clear signals from my past, present and future. Early on I decided to entitle the book, No Spring Skips Its Turn A Memoir of Loving Bob and Despising Alzheimer’s, the second half of a quote from environmentalist and author, Hal Borland. A trusted friend said, “Stick with alliteration. How about Loathing Alzheimer’s?”
Three months before the book was scheduled to go to press, an unbidden idea startled me with such force that I redirected my plans. I decided to use the first part of the quote, No Winter Lasts Forever… for the title of the book and the second part for a sequel. I contacted my editor, told her my change in plans, and requested a new cover—specifically, one with a robin sitting on a tree branch covered in snow.
The next change came while I was reading, Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl. Even though I was dog-tired, the clock glowed showing minutes before midnight, I simply could not put the book down. I counted the number of pages in the next chapter to see if I could keep my eyes open. It was only four pages. Yes, I could. Yes! In that moment, I determined to shorten my lengthy chapters in hopes that readers would keep turning the pages.
After the chapters were written, edits made, and the book published, I scheduled the signing celebration to be on what would have been Bob’s birthday, October 9. The book was my posthumous gift to him. The gift to me is having persons share a line or phrase from No Winter Lasts Forever… that is meaningful to them. Many of them say, “I read your book in one sitting.” This makes me laugh and I reply, “I worked four hours in a gift shop to pay my yardman for the work he does in four hours and I wrote a book over fourteen months that takes persons one night to read. Something is off-kilter with these ratios!”