It was just the way he walked, with that self-assured, cocky stance that said he
was in control. Or was it his ready smile and quick wit that reminded me
of his father? Vern’s comment made me realize that Brian was
not just another normal kid, like Vern’s kids were.
He was Ed’s son. It was just the way he walked.
In her second memoir, Kathy Pooler tackles two difficult issues in her life. She refers to poor personal choices made in her marital life. These choices affected not only the author but also the lives of her children, Brian and Leigh Ann. Here she tells the story of her son Brian’s addiction and her simultaneous battle with cancer. It is a love story, one filled with hope and healing.
Concerned about Brian’s addiction, Pooler worries Brian will end up like his father, Ed. This is a common worry among parents of children in a marriage or partnership with an addicted partner. But how to watch and
help turn a person away from what another presents as normal?
Pooler tries as hard as a parent can try to help Brian, but we all know the various emotional stages of growth. The “I’m wholly knowledgeable” teen years, the “I’m an adult now” years, and the “I don’t need you in my life any more” years. How does a single parent cope with knowing a child is struggling with addiction of any type? Coping with this problem alone is difficult, as Pooler shares in Just the Way He Walked. She holds back nothing.
The strength of her faith is a bolster for her hopes and desires to help Brian. Helpful is a stepfather willing to step up and help Pooler with both battles. Pooler shows how at times we have to let someone step in to help through strengths we may not have. She shares her use of journaling, belief in prayer, and strong faith—a powerful toolbox.
Pooler’s memoir is well written. Her story is written with others in mind trying to help a family member or friend struggling with addiction. Descriptions of her emotions are honest and painful for the reader. But, we must expect reality to shine through in a tough story such as this.
In the synopsis of Just the Way He Walked, Pooler shares the goal in writing this book:
The message of resilience and faith in the face of insurmountable odds serves
as a testament to what is possible when one dares to hope.
I recommend Just the Way He Walked to those looking for the hope of helping an addict to turn his or her life around.
It is rare that I give a 5-star rating to books I review. Yet, often I make exceptions as I have done with Pooler’s new memoir. It is indeed a 5-star book.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and nothing more. Opinions expressed here are solely mine.
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Buy the Little Ones a Dolly: A Memoir by Rose E. Bingham Published by HenschelHAUS Publishing (December 1, 2017) Genre: Memoir/Family Relationships/Mental Health Source: Purchased Format: Kindle, 260 pages ASIN: B077KDHXFK
In a small, close-knit Wisconsin community, a mother goes into town and never returns. It’s 1952 and Rose, at 15, is the oldest of seven children, the youngest of whom is only 3. As hard as Rose and her father tried to keep things together on the home front, with the help of kind relatives and sympathetic neighbors, in 1954, the children were ultimately placed in an orphanage, and later split up into five different foster families.
“Buy the little ones a dolly” were some of the last words Rose received from her mother in a Christmas letter, sent without a return address. Rose made it her lifelong mission to maintain contact among the siblings. Rose intimately escorts the reader on her journey through trials, tribulations, joy, and love. The mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance comes to light 59 years later.
The first sentence in the synopsis above is almost unfathomable to most parents, especially mothers. However, it is something that happens more often than we probably know. Given the time frame, it likely happened frequently in a family the size of Rose Bingham’s. It was this sentence that caught my attention because of its similarity to an incident in my mother’s family history.
When I picked up Buy the Little Ones a Dolly, I had no intention of giving up everything else I had on my to-do list. If I remember correctly, I carried it to the kitchen while I prepared our evening meal that day. Yes, it’s that compelling.
Not only is Rose Bingham an exceptional writer, she tells a story of rising up at the age of 15 to the role of mother of six younger siblings, a role which takes courage, strength, faith, and a positive outlook. Rose tells her story with sincerity and authenticity. I continually found myself wanting to sit down and visit with Rose, and since I couldn’t, the book was an excellent substitute for real-time conversation.
In addition to caring for her siblings, often in the absence of their father as well, Rose dreams of solving the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and where she is. Occasional letters bear no return address. Rose is blessed with pluck and hope and eventually, the mystery is unraveled and revealed to her readers.
Be sure to keep tissues handy. They’ll be useful.
Meet the Author:
Rose Bingham is a retired registered nurse. She graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and received her BSN from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. She has always enjoyed writing poetry but has written a memoir. Rose’s memoir is about moving on after the disappearance of her mother. A three year study by Lynn Davidman, a professor of sociology, of men and women who had lost their mothers, discovered many go on to careers such as nursing. There are four nurses in Rose’s family.
Rose and her husband, Mike, reside in Wisconsin Dells, Wi. They have six children, seventeen grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, and a spoiled dog, Rylee.
When her alcoholic and emotionally abusive mother s health declines, Joan Rough invites her to move in with her. Rough longs to be the good daughter, helping her narcissistic mother face the reality of her coming death. But when repressed memories of childhood abuse by her mother arise, Rough is filled with deep resentment and hatred toward the woman who birthed her, and her dream of mending their tattered relationship shatters. Seven years later, when her mother dies, she is left with a plastic bag of her mother s ashes and a diagnosis of PTSD. What will she do with them?
Courageous and unflinchingly honest, Scattering Ashes is a powerful chronicle of letting go of a loved one, a painful past, and fear a journey that will bring hope to others who grapple with the pain and repercussions of abuse.
Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go by Joan Rough Published by She Writes Press (September 20, 2016) Genre: Memoir/Family Relationships/Aging Parents/Child Abuse Source: Author Format: Paperback, 256 pages ISBN: 1631520954
FCC Disclosure: Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book.
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People observing us from afar often comment on how close Mom and I seem. It always surprises me, because we are close only in that I am a vessel into which I allow her to pour her own challenges. I hold them for her, always there, a container she fills with anger and disappointments. They are more than a distraction. I have my own problems, but I focus on Mom, who ‘needs’ me. That is my addiction. The truth is that even when someone tells us we look so alike, I want to reply, Thanks but I’m not anything like my mother and I don’t want to be!
Scattering of Ashes, p. 28
In Scattering of Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go, Joan Z. Rough writes with raw truth and emotion about the difficult mother-daughter relationship she suffered. Not only is Rough a writer, she also paints, writes poetry, and is a photographer. From this multitude of creative gifts, Rough draws on each one to bring the story of her life with her mother to the page for her readers.
On a personal note, her writing is so realistic and lucent I often found myself among Rough’s pages and in doing so reached more than once for a tissue to wipe away my tears.
Rough exposes the pain and scars from a childhood of emotional abuse at the hands of her alcoholic mother. Needless to say, Rough’s search for peaceful days and nights in her own family life is often overwhelmed by her mother’s abuses continuing into her daughter’s adulthood.
Rough’s transparency in her writing is appreciated by the reader. It is as if we are looking through the window and watching each scene unfold. Despite Rough and her husband willingly becoming her mother’s caregivers, this abusive parent continues to spew rages and epithets at her daughter without reason. Such emotional invectives create the deepest scars to the recipient’s heart.
That she is able to write her story with such beautiful prose, almost poetic at times, is an amazing gift of creativity. It would be so easy to whimper and whine and show the negative side of everything. But not Joan Rough. She brings every sense of beauty she owns to the page in writing of these most difficult times.
Although her story begins raw and ragged with damage in place and continuing, Rough shines through each page as a disciplined and well-trained writer. The highpoint of her story is found in her dedication of this memoir “ . . . to all mothers and daughters who are seeking to love and forgive each other.”
I highly recommend this memoir to those in complicated mother-daughter relationships. If ever a pathway has been written to self-acceptance, forgiveness, and healing, Joan Rough has done so in Scattering of Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go.
MEEt joan rough
Joan Z. Rough is a visual artist and writer. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and is included in Mariflo Stephens’ anthology, Some Say Tomato. Her first book, AUSTRALIAN LOCKER HOOKING: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Bill, her two dogs, Sam and Max, and crazy cat, Lilliput.