Sunday Book Review Plus – Bonus Documentary Recap on Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review with an added bonus. Today I’m going to review Joan Didion’s book – The Year of Magical Thinking. But before I share my book review, I’m going to share an overview of the 2017 Documentary currently on Netflix – Joan Didion – The Center Will Not Hold, where 86 year old, literary icon, Joan, reflects on her intimate stories from her writing career and struggles, and her forty year marriage to author John Gregory Dunne, brother to author Dominick Dunne. The documentary was directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.

 

My 5 Star Review Documentary Review:

 

Joan Didion was born December 5, 1934 in Sacremento, California. She’s an American novelist and essayist and screenwriter. Joan is known for her incisive depictions of social unrest. Joan says she began writing at the age of five and was a shy ‘bookish’ girl. She never considered herself a real writer until her first published book. Joan struggled with social anxiety and took up acting and public speaking to help ease her anxieties. As a young teen, she spent much of her time typing out books by Ernest Hemingway so she could learn how sentence structure worked. Joan had a sordid childhood as her dad was in the army during WWII, with moving a lot she didn’t attend school regularly until returning back to Sacremento in 1944.

 

After watching the documentary and learning about the demises of both her husband and her daughter Quintana, my heart went out to Joan and I was compelled to read her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, because she wrote it after John’s death. It was first published in 2005. In the documentary, Joan’s publicist talks about how he urged Joan to write her novel published in 2012 – Blue Nights, for both, John and Quintana.

 

John and Joan met in New York City when Joan won a poetry contest at her senior year in Berkeley for her essay, Prix de Paris, and the prize landed her a job as research assistant at Vogue. John wrote for Time Magazine at the time.

 

They bounced ideas off one another, each wrote their own books and essays, but they collaborated on screenplays together – Needle Park (1971 with Al Pacino) and A Star is Born (1976 Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Joan’s logline for Needle Park – “Romeo and Juliette as junkies.

 

In this documentary, we get a deep inside look at this author from her beginnings as a journalist writing hard stories, Joan would say that she writes about disorder because she’d then find the situation”less scary”. She wasn’t happy with the way some of her books were portrayed for movies, such as, Book of Common Prayer, complaining her characters were totally different than what she’d written.

 

Joan admits that much of what she writes contained pieces of her. Her interests in writing were mostly about stories of humanity and the bad things going on in the world. Her visit to El Salvador prompted her to write political stories and essays, and an eventual book called El Salvador. She talks about the lie of the Central Park 7 – propaganda spurred falsely in the accusation of the rape of a jogger in Central Park, N.Y. and on VP Dick Cheney, “Bully of the Bush war,” “He took the lemons, made lemonade, spilled, and made someone else cleanup.”

 

John and Joan kept a low profile in the celeb world. They adopted their daughter Quintana at birth. When Quintana was asked what kind of mom Joan was, she replied, “Okay, mostly remote.” Joan began questioning how parents are sometimes on auto-pilot and don’t realize child neglect.

 

In 2003, Quintana took ill and was rushed to hospital when she went into septic shock resulting from pneumonia, which turned worse and ultimately left her in a coma at the time of John’s death. John and Joan had just come home from visiting Quintana in hospital on December 30, 2003, and they were sick with worry about their daughter. Joan made dinner, the two sat down to eat when John had a massive, fatal heart attack. Later, looking in her husband’s closet with a friend to pack up his clothes, Joan said, “What if he comes back?” That was clearly a grief statement because I could so identify with not wanting to let go. After she wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan said it was the hardest book to write, but had to write it to get through. I totally get that. She told herself that after writing the book she would learn to let go. This woman lost the love of her life while their daughter lay in a coma.

 

Months after Quintana’s recovery, she fell and hit her head, suffering a massive hematoma and resulting in six hours of brain surgery. As Quintana was recovering her major illnesses in 2004, she came down with Pancreatitis in 2005, and ultimately died from it in August 2005 at age 39. Didion wrote Blue Nights in 2011 for Quintana. That woman was broken.

 

Joan was/is a tiny woman, and after losing her family, her wonderful friends stepped up to take care of her and made sure she ate at her already weight of 75 pounds. Joan then wrote the play for the book The Year of Magical Thinking, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, in the nonfictional soliloquy.

 

Joan wrote Blue Nights after the play, about Quintana – a book she said she didn’t want to write. On her life when asked if she had regrets about things, she said, “The failure to plan for misfortune,” her guilt of failing as a mother.

 

In 2005 Didion won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and became a finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award.  She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Magical Year of Thinking. In 2015, President Obama awarded Joan with the Mastery of Style in Writing Award for exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow and for her ‘startling honesty’.

 

 

Poignant Quotes:

 

“Everyone has moved on except the one left grieving.”

 

“See enough and write it down.”

 

“A journal – a forgotten account paid with interest.”

 

“Remember what it is to be me, that’s always the point.”

 

 

 

 

I recently finished reading Joan’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. After seeing the documentary and having only read one other of Joan’s books, I felt compelled to read.

 

 

 

 

Blurb:

 

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

 

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve—the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

 

This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”

 

 

My 5 Star Review:

 

An accounting of love and loss. In this often, heartwrenching book, Joan Didion champions her once simple writing life alone, without her husband, best friend and consultant on all her writing. Joan reminisces on her life and writing with her husband John, always with her – writing, walking, traveling, filming – they did everything together, despite them both being individual writers, with the exception of a few collaborations.

 

Joan takes us through her life in vignettes as she shares memories of incidence on vacations the family took together, the circles of people they traveled with, their routines, when they adopted Quintana, motherhood, and mistakes. But most poignantly, Joan focuses on the time of John’s death, the surreal moments, the most insignificant things becoming big things, the most minutest details overlooked while she was living numb are being realized in this story. She begins her story with the the eve her and John went to visit Quintana in hospital, while she was in an induced coma. They were both worried sick about their daughter. Joan makes dinner, they sit down to eat and John has a fatal heart attack right in front of her on December 30, 2003. Her details are precise. She talks about her different kinds of grief, comparing the variation in grief between losing her parents, to how different her grief felt when John died. Joan shares what it was like waking up the next morning alone. She’ll take you right into her realizations. So identifiable for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost. I know much of what Joan speaks, like not even remembering if we ate or not, mostly not. It’s a numbness that takes over to break the impact of the shock.

 

Joan bares herself with raw honesty on what grief leaves on someone, the stages of steps involved until reaching acceptance, but I wonder how many ever get there. Joan shares how she came to decisions about giving her loved one’s clothes away, as Joan in her denial stage held hope he may come back. Joan discusses her concern of having to break the news to Quintana about her father’s death, after she awakes from a long coma. Joan shares her fears about her daughter getting sick again overshadowing her grief – “Until now, I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened, Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”

 

Imagine trying to stay sane!

 

Joan Didion is an iconic writer. As a journalist, she followed stories of humanity, out in the field. She said it was easier to deal with war if she could see it. She’s a tiny frail woman who can barely move her hands now at age 86, but that doesn’t stop her from still using them to articulate what she speaks. She’s lived through hell and back TWICE, first losing the love of her life, then her daughter. I can only imagine the amount of courage it took to write about such pain. It’s not surprising this Warrior Woman has won so many awards. I was drawn to this book after watching a documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix after my own husband’s passing, and I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have loved and lost.

 

 

Poignant Quotes that resonate:

 

“Life changes fast.

 

Life changes in the instant.

 

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

 

The question of self-pity.”

 

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”

 

“I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death.”

 

“Marriage is memory, marriage is time.”

 

“For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I saw myself through the eyes of others.”

 

“I have trouble thinking of myself as a widow. I remember hesitating the first time I had to check that box on the ‘marital status’ part of a form.”

 

“I realized that for the time being I could not trust myself to present a coherent face to the world.”

 

“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.”

 

“I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.”

 

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Sunday Movie Review – Hacksaw Ridge – WWII Hero

Welcome to my Sunday Movie Review. I thought I’d share this movie because despite the ‘war’ content, which I always cover my eyes when I see violence or blood, like a gag reflex, I loved the message and the compassion of Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, whom I’ve never heard of, but wow, this guy can steal your empathy in Hacksaw Ridge. He almost reminds me of a young Sean Penn?? I had this review in draft for when I didn’t have a book review to share, and I managed a few stolen moments to edit and post here for your enjoyment.

A WWII true story about the unlikeliest hero, Desmond Doss who enlisted to save lives, not kill them.

This movie from 2016, was a based on a true story about a man who enlisted himself to join the fight in WWII. He grew up in Virginia under the belt of his abusive father and God-loving mother. But Doss is a compassionate soul who when he had the chance to kill his father after near beating his mother to death, he couldn’t. The story is about a man who wanted to do something for his country but would not participate in violence and only wanted to be a medic – who turned into a hero.

Desmond Doss grew up and was known as a ‘conscientious objector‘ who desperately wanted to serve in WWII as a medic. The problem was he refused to carry or even touch a gun. He was abused by the court martial sentence, but he stood his ground. He made clear he wanted to serve his country by saving lives, not killing them.

His life in the army was tough as at first he took a lot of teasing for his stance. There’s a beautiful love story in this movie too, despite the fact that much of the movie was war footage in the battle at Okinawa, which of course was the main theme of the story about how Doss came to be a respected medic and eventually receiving a gold medal of honor for saving 75 lives in that gruesome battle. Too be honest, despite the gore and the pain I feel when I see the injured, and despite the fact that the theme was about the ugly war, this guy had me swallowing my heart through his rescues that I had to peel my hands away from my eyes to make sure he lived. Being that it was a true story and all I’d read was he’d received the gold medal for his heroic rescues, I wasn’t sure if he received the medal as a survivor or posthumously. And there, I will leave you hanging to find out for yourselves.

Check out this gripping trailer. It pretty much highlights what I highlighted in my review. Lol, maybe I’m in the wrong business? I love reviewing movies, especially the ones that grab my heart and require Kleenex.

 

I always like to look at book reviews for a movie after I’ve watched, to see what people got from the book to discover which was better. Most times, the book is better because, after all, it was good enough to make into a movie but then gets rewritten in script form where time is taken into consideration, so naturally, some things are left out. But I have seen some fine movies in my time that the book somewhat disappointed.

I dug around Amazon to look for this book and I saw a few. But I was searching for the original author’s book and I came across this comment in a review for a book version that is an abridged version,

“Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge (hardback) is a much expanded, reedited edition of the original The Unlikeliest Hero, which went out of print in 1967. The new edition contains nearly three times as many pictures, a new Foreword, and Epilogue.”

 

I found the book on Amazon:

 

Have any of you seen this movie or read the book? If you like hero stories about survival, standing your ground for your beliefs, you will surely love this movie.

 

©DGKaye2021

bitmo live laugh love

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review – Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

My Sunday Book Review is for one of the Best Selling books of 2020 – Mary Trump’s tell all – Too Much and Never Enough – How my family created the world’s most dangerous man.

I will preface my review here by saying that this book was a beautifully written memoir-ish lowdown about Mary’s life, growing up Trump, family horrors and dysfunct.

The story takes us into the lives of several Trump members. We learn how disobeying will get you disowned – like Mary’s father Freddie Jr., the makings of DJT, how he got himself into the public eye, his manipulations and unorthodox tactics, and a deep look into his lack of morals and compassion and narcissism with Mary’s analysis on the reasons that influenced DJT to become who he is. With almost 29,000, 4 and 5 star reviews for this book, it commands attention, not just for Americans but globally because what happens in the US often affects the world.

My review below is probably the longest one I’ve written, but I included a lot of pertinent quotes from the book. And there were many faceted stories that I tried to encompass as snippets and highlights. This isn’t a fairytale with a happy ending, but stories about one dysfunct family of broken people where power and money takes precedence over human emotions.

The review below is quite lengthy at over 3K words. I’ve written it as more of a synopsis for those who wish to learn more about the Trump dynasty and how it evolved with central characters and points candidly shared by Mary Trump.

 

 

Blurb:

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, New York, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.

A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.

Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.

 

Note: This review contains slices of just some of what’s revealed in the book. And since it’s not a novel, and more like a tell-all written style, with events leading up to the eventual writing of this book, much of the review is taken from context in the book. Facts could be considered spoilers for some.

 

My 5 Star Review: 

I’m giving this book 5 stars – certainly not for the subject matter, but because Mary Trump’s excellent and easy writing and presentation, and her courage to write and publish this book.

The book begins with a quote from Victor Hugo in Les Miserables: “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”

The prologue takes us into a visit to the WH by the Trump family in honor of celebrating sister Maryanne Trump’s birthday, a place to show off as DJT adds “This place has never looked better since George Washington lived here.” Yes, the WH didn’t exist when Washington was president.

The story begins with Mary sharing a conversation she had with her Aunt Maryanne when Maryanne stated, “He’s a clown.” They discussed DJT as a faded reality star and failed businessman that would surely doom his run for president. Nobody in the family could conceive the thought he would get elected. Mary recalls how at every family meal Trump would disparage women, calling them denegrading names, and when he spoke of anyone more accomplished than himself, they were referred to as losers. Mary asserts that nobody in the Trump family except his children, supported his campaign.

Mary dives into the history of ‘the father’ Fred Trump and the heartbreaking story of how her father, Freddie Trump Jr.’s lineage was wiped out after Freddie’s tragic death in 1981.  We’ll learn how DJT’s reckless hyberbole hides his pathological weakness and how he became his own cheerleader. And she continues by saying that none of the Trump siblings were unscathed by Fred’s sociopathy, especially DJT and her father Freddie Jr. Mary also provides the evidence, as a clinical pyschologist, how DJT fits every criteria of being a narcissist and that he meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, criminality, arrogance and disregard for the rights of others. Mary delves into his pathological ways about dividing the country, petty revenge and his withholding of pertinent information. “Fred created the monster,” Mary adds, “There would be no love for Donald, just his agonizing thirsting for it.” And states that he is running the country like her ‘malignantly dysfunctional family.”

Freddie Trump Jr. died beneath Fred’s cruelty. Mary tells us the division her grandfather created among his own children, “…is the water Donald always swum in.” Mary continues to tell us that DJT understands nothing about history, principles, geopolitics or diplomacy and his presidency is purely financially motivated, thinking the US Treasury is his personal piggy bank. Mary adds that the events of the last three years compelled her to write this book because four more years of DJT, ” . . .would be the end of American democracy” with his hubris and willful ignorance, reminding that he had never had to negotiate alone.

“Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence, and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can’t let him destroy my country.”

Mary’s grandparents – Fred and Mary were absent parents. Mary – a mother who never knew how to comfort or stand up for her children, and Fred – a sociopath with a lack of empathy, a penchant for lying, indifference to right or wrong, and a lack of interest for anyone but himself, proving apples don’t fall far from the trees. The home, the children alienated from one another and their neediness housed a dangerous tension. Mary continues by saying DJT’s lack of mothering had him going to Fred for solace, becoming the source of DJT’s terror. His needs weren’t met and was deprived of love, which would become the scars of his life. So DJT developed  an increasing hostility to others. Eventually, Fred Trump championed the traits that made DJT unloveable.

Mother Mary was a frail woman with multiple illnesses that had her frequenting hospital stays. Fred was barely at home, out wheeling and dealing, using government loopholes to obtain loans and free money, to build his empire. From Fred’s father, down the line to all the Trump boys – nobody served in the military.

Mary and Fred Trump wed in 1936 and moved to Queens, N.Y. Mary migrated to US from Scotland. She went from being live-in help to running her own household, although Fred was the boss, and she became quick to judge others who came from her same beginnings. Fred became well-connected with politicians, the mob, and government handouts for his building projects. Fred set up ‘trust funds’ for all his children, a parking spot to avoid paying income tax. With plenty of government funding, Fred was building on the taxpayer’s dime. Other than for business, Fred was known as a miser with his money. Fred wasn’t humble and loved to show off. He loved to brag and send out press releases every time he completed a new project. (Sounds familiar.)

Fred wanted to prime his eldest son, Freddie Jr. to get involved with the business, but Freddie had other aspirations, which left 2nd son Donald to be groomed and Freddie to pay dearly for disappointing his father. For DJT, lying was a way to self-aggrandize, for Freddie, lying was his weapon of self-defense from his father. Weakness wasn’t tolerated by Fred and he abhorred Freddie’s gentle nature, and DJT followed in Fred’s footsteps.

Fred devalued and degraded Freddie for wanting to become a pilot instead of his yes man, and DJT relished in it, and this pleased his father. Sowing division is an old game for DJT, passed down from his father. The house rules dictated: be tough at all costs, lying is fine, apologizing and kindness is weakness, there can only be one winner and everyone else is a loser. Donald was a bully to his two brothers, and never reprimanded for it. Fred admired Donald’s disregard for authority. And encouraged by his father, Donald began believing his own bullshit. Freddie Jr. referred to his brother as ‘the great I am’. DJT drove his mother crazy because she couldn’t control him. He talked back to her, contradicted her, he was a slob, teased children and bullied them, and could never admit when he was wrong. His mother eventually sent him to military school, hoping he’d become a better person. We all know how that turned out. Father Fred had no use for the military.

Fred Trump was basically a slum landlord and taught his son Don how to do it. Freddie Jr. was appalled at his family’s behavior and did his own thing and paid for it dearly, eventually ostrasized by his father and the whole lot of them. According to father Fred, being a pilot was being a “bus driver in the sky”. The banishment and belittling of Freddie by his father was the beginning of Freddie’s alcoholism, and the eventual end of his pilot’s license, and ultimately, his marriage, overtime. Freddie lived in one of his father’s slum apartments and caught pneumonia from the decripit apartment in sore need of repair and drafty windows, and his dad even gave him a discount on the rent!

The Trump daughters had their share of rough times financially too, and they didn’t dare ask their father for help.

Heir apparent, used his connections with shyster lawyer Roy Cohn to get his sister Maryanne on the bench as a judge. Maryanne was a District Attorney in New Jersey at the time – early 80s. Cohn arranged with his buddy, then President Ronald Reagan. Why would Donald do something so kind? Because Maryanne did all his homework for him. But she couldn’t write his SATs for him, so, she told Mary he paid his good friend Joe Shapiro to write his entrance exams.

Fred knew his son Donald didn’t have the attention span to run his business, but made him president of Trump management. Fred thought his son had a lot of nerve, plus he was good at selling snow to Eskimos so Don came in handy for smooth-talking bankers and weedling his way into upper echelon circles. And the Trump rule was ‘no renting out apartments to black people’. This act got both Fred and Donald sued in 1973 for violating the Fair Housing Act – one of the largest federal housing discrimination suits ever brought to court. It was hired slime lawyer Roy Cohn who taught Donald to always fight back with a counter law suit to drag things out. According to the documentary I recently watched about Roy Cohn, he had similar values as Don the con – not paying employees and sliming people. Fred didn’t mind his son taking credit for Fred’s success because it was making them famous. In the early 80s, Fred began publicly giving Donald free reign because – ‘Everything he touches turns to gold”. Fred was the puppeteer who couldn’t get caught pulling the strings. By the mid 80s, Donald was losing lots of Fred’s empire so he had to intervene trying to mitigate the damage his son was doing, understanding he created a monster.

Donny boy created a fictional personna and stuck to the script to hang with the important people. Fred didn’t mind and kept the money coming for basically doing nothing except giving orders, NOT paying employees and taking credit for his father’s successes. His favorite word for all those beneath him is ‘loser’.

Fred Trump had zero compassion for anyone, including his family, even Donald. Mary shares events of past Christmas’s at her grandparents’ home, when her and her brother would receive ‘regifting’ or cheap-ass gifts like a package of underwear with the $12 sticker still on the pack from first wife Ivanna. And continued on about the the millions Don con siphoned from father Fred, especially for the Atlantic City casino that went bust. Fred even tried to help save it by having ‘someone’ buy 3 million dollars worth of casino chips and take them out of the casino to look like a loss and write-off.

Meanwhile, Freddie Jr got very ill. Having no money he shamefully went back home and was allowed to stay in a small room where he slept on a cot. When someone in that house finally cared to call Freddie an ambulance as he withered alone in the little room, he was pronounced dead not long after. And neither parent even bothered going to the hospital. Freddie was not even given a church ceremony. There was no will. Mary had to fight with her uncles over giving him the proper funeral. And that night at dinner, Donnie and dad discussed women, politics and best deals, like Freddie never existed.

Mary continues on about Donald’s money ventures, and who he slimed to build Trump Tower in 1980, built with ‘alleged’ mob money and was a continuing controversial subject in the media. By the early 90s, DJT was in debt for billions. But the banks kept on lending him money because, apparently, they felt abandoned projects would lose them more money, so they ‘banked’ on the Trump name and kept lending. This empowered DJT to think he could do no wrong and the money tree was always ripe for picking. New York’s elite dubbed Donald, ‘the court jester from Queens’.

When the banks finally did stop lending Don con money, Fred clamped down and only gave Donnie a monthly allowance that according to Mary – “was enough for a family of four to live comfortably for 10 years!” Mary states that Donald’s ‘talent for deflecting responsibility’, lying and cheating, was a trait he picked up from his father’s playbook.

As the bankruptcies kept on coming, Donnie devised a plan for more money. He approached his father’s lawyers and had a codicil added to Fred’s will – a great escape hatch for siphoning money alloted to his siblings. As Fred was halfway into dementia, Don got his father to sign. This would put him in charge of all Fred’s money upon his death, including his dead brother Freddie’s shares. But apparently, this didn’t pass ‘the smell test’ to Fred, even half lucid. Ultimately, a new will was made with Donald, sister Maryanne and brother Robert as executors, plus an add on, “whatever Donald got from Fred was to be matched to each child”. Sadly, that didn’t include brother Freddie, because, you know, he was already dead, so who cared about his family. Well, Mary Trump did! Sister Maryanne made comment if they hadn’t changed that will, they’d all have to be begging Donnie for money to buy them a coffee. Donald was under the impression that only he was important to his father.

In the late 90s, DJT asked his niece Mary if she’d ghostwrite his next book for him. Although she took him up on it, nothing developed because he would never sit down and work with her and gave her nothing to work with. Even though he’d given her one transcript of a recording he made as a ‘stream of consciousness’. It was an aggrieved collection of mutterings – about women who refused to date him, calling them the ugliest and fattest slobs he’d ever seen. Mary ripped it up and stopped asking him for interviews, and eventually, wrote no book for him. She also remarked that after hanging out at his office during bookwriting time, she still didn’t know what he did for a living.

Before Fred died, he was well into dementia. He didn’t remember many family member’s names, or even who they were. Fred was a terrible example of a father and grandfather and was mean to Mary. But ironically, as he lost his mind, he took a shining to her and called her ‘nice lady’. Donald only had contempt for Fred by that point, as he had no more use for his father. He treated his father just the way Fred had treated Freddie Jr. when he had no interest in his father’s empire and his dealings. The only thing Fred worried about, even through his dementia, was losing his fortune.

Fred died in 1999, and at his funeral, each sibling had something scripted to read for their father. Only, Donald went off script and elaborated on about how great he , himself, Donald Trump was, which nauseated sister Maryanne to the point she told her own son, “to please never let any of my siblings speak at my funeral”. Mary and her brother Fritz were left out of the will. Instead of each of Fred’s five children to get 20% each of his estate, even with Freddie being dead, and should be going to his two children, four other Trumps got 25% each. Separately, there was a bequest Fred made for his grandchildren for an amount that was less than 1/10th of 1% of what Freddie’s four siblings received.

Mary held up the will for months in probate as she nor her brother would sign off. Months later, uncle Rob had enough and they met up. Mary wanted answers as to why she was left out, Rob’s reply: “He didn’t give a shit about any of his grandchildren.” Mary asks again why her and her brother were cut out of the will just because her father was dead. Rob’s reply: “As far as your grandfather was concerned, dead is dead.” Not one Trump gave a shit about Mary or her brother.

Mary knows her father had holdings when he died. Rob wants her signature, but Mary decided with her brother, to sue the four Trumps to release their money. The four who were assigned to protect her interest! But Rob blackmails Mary threatening not to release her money ever, threatening she will go broke paying lawyers – the old Trump standard. So  Mary goes to the only allie one of Fred’s lawyers to ask about those holdings and finds out they’re worth millions and he encourages her to sue them. Rob runs to his mamma and fed her some BS conspiracy and grandma Trump calls Mary and tells her granddaughter that her father was worth nothing and hangs up on her.

Irwin the lawyer suggests having Fred’s last will overturned because Fred was being taken advantage of his dementia when he signed. Irwin sent Mary to a shark lawyer for their lawsuit, and one week after the foursome got their notice, Mary got a letter. The foursome had Mary and her brother’s family Trumpcare medical coverage removed while her brother’s son was very ill, in and out of hospital, despite Rob’s prior promise he made Fritz that he’d always look after his sick son. So Mary and bro Fritz launch another lawsuit for the healthcare issue, all the while not signing off on the will yet. Finally, there was a settlement out of desperation for need of money for Fritz’s son’s health, and they got mucho ripped off in value they were given. In the midst of the settlement, grandma dies, and Mary and her bro weren’t even in the bequest part of her will. They were erased.

Three years ago the NYT approached Mary for interview, alerting her to the fact they were working on her uncle’s finances, Mary declined, but eventually Mary changed her mind and called the journalist back who’d left her card. Mary had access to 30 banker boxes of financial files from the lawsuit her and her brother filed on her aunts and uncles. Mary had had enough of her uncle and wanted to take him down. When the NYT came out with the reports in Oct 2018 that Fred had transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to his children, Mary learned just how much money Fred left. And in 1992, after Donald tried to rip off his siblings with the codicil to Fred’s will, they finally came together with a common mission – they had to find a way to hide the millionssss of dollars Fred left them, so they opened a shell company. While Fred was still alive and not very cognizant, they realized they would be hit with millions in taxes and siphoned millions into the shell company from Trump management co – large gifts disguised as business transactions, enough that when Fred died he was said to only have 1.9 million – despite the siblings selling over 700 million worth of Fred’s assets a few years later, which I will add other than Donnie boy, the other three wanted to retain the holdings and live off the interest, but Donnie wanted his lump sum.

From Mary: “Donald’s need for affirmation is so great that he doesn’t seem to notice that the largest group of his supporters are people he wouldn’t fondescent to be seen with outside of a rally.”

“Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered at every moment because he knows deep down he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows he has never been loved.”

“He was neither self-made nor a good dealmaker. But that was how it started – with his misuse of language and the media’s failure to ask him pointed questions.”

“It’s people weaker than he who keep him there.”

“Donald’s checkered personal history and his unique personality flaws make him extremely vulnerable to manipulation by smarter, more powerful men.” Cruelty and humiliation are his best traits he inherited from his father.

He turned Coronavirus briefings to “… mini campaign rallies, filled with self-congratulation, demagoguery and ring-kissing.” Mary affirms that DJT has always been given a free pass for his failures and transgressions against decency, law and his fellow human beings. He knows he lies, but will always test to see how far he can get away with. As Mary says, “And so far, he’s gotten away with everything.”

“Donald is a petty, pathetic man.” Mary continues telling us that to offset his powerlessness and rage he will punish others in revenge.

“As my father lay dying alone, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.”

“The simple fact is that Donald is fundamentally incapable of acknowledging the suffering of others.”

” . . .Donald requires division. It’s the only way he knows how to survive – my grandfather ensured that decades ago when he turned his children against each other.”

Astounding to read, and my lengthy review only touches on just some of the shenanigans that continues down this dangerous line.

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

Frida Kahlo – The Love and Life of the Famed Mexican Artist

I’ve had a fascination with Frida Kahlo since I fell in love with Mexico. Frida was a bohemian free-spirited Mexican artist who is known for her unfettered strength in overcoming debilating physical illness and bullying when she was a young girl, first bedridden with polio, then later in her young womanhood years after recovering from polio, she was severely injured and mamed for life from a bus accident. It was when she was bedridden for months in a body cast that her father invented a makeshift way to hang an easel above her so she could paint, leading to her life as an eventual famous artist.

 

“Who needs feet when I’ve got wings to fly” ~Frida Kahlo

 

Frida Kahlo was born – Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon on July 6, 1907 in Mexico City, Mexico, and grew up during the Mexican revolution. Frida was the third of four daughters to her Mexican mother and her half German, half Hungarian father, born in Germany. When Frida was six years old she contracted polio and was left with one leg shorter than the other, which of course was good reason for other kids to make fun of her, despite the fact that she always wore long dresses to cover her smaller leg. And despite her illness she was quite clever and managed to excel through and finish high school at Prepatoria, which was recognized as one of Mexico’s presitigious high schools.

The first thing Frida is remembered for is the tragic accident she endured when a streetcar crashed into the bus that Frida was on. Frida was just 18 years old on that September 17th day in 1925. The accident had left Frida with several broken and fractured bones, most dangerously her spinal cord was fractured. Being bedridden and immobilized for many months in a full body cast, it was then that Frida began to paint, mostly self-portraits portraying externally how she felt on the inside. And during that time, she realized she wanted to be a painter more than to continue on to study medicine.

 

 “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best” ~ Frida Kahlo

 

After Frida recovered from the accident, she formed relationships with other artists, and notably, the already famous Diego Rivera, who was 21 years her senior, and he ultimately, became her husband –  twice, and the love of her very interesting life.

Frida’s paintings continued to emphasize the pain she endured from the accident and the many operations that were to follow, and her exhaustive psychological pain. When asked about the symbolism of her paintings, this notable quote was Frida’s reply:

 

“I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality”~ Frida Kahlo

 

Frida’s art was deeply influenced by her Mexican culture, many paintings using vivid colors and dramatic symbolism, as well as both Christian and Jewish themes. In 1939 the Louvre Museum in Paris bought Kahlo’s first piece of 20th century art.

When Frida recovered from being immobilized by the bus accident, she approached Diego Rivera, an already famous painter whose work Frida admired, for advice about pursuing her art career. Rivera knew Frida had talent and guided her to becoming famous in her own right, eventually leading to the fiery love affair they engaged in together. And despite the disapproval of her parents, Frida married Rivera in 1929. It is said her parents referred to them as the ‘elephant and the dove’ because of their vast size differential to each other.

The relationship between this odd couple was often touted as tumultuous. Both Kahlo and Rivera had fiery instincts, both had extra-marital affairs. Frida was also an open bi-sexual. The saying goes that Diego didn’t mind her illicit affairs with women, but he was extremely jealous when she strayed with another man. It is said that the only time Frida didn’t approve of Diego’s wanderings is when he had an affair with her younger sister. Some thought it was payback from Diego, but it was enough for Frida to end the marriage. But that wasn’t the end because they both remarried each other in 1940. And their second go at marriage was just as explosive as it was the first time round.

 

Frida Kahlo sketch

 

Later in their marriage, Frida and Diego became Mexican communist sympathizers and became good friends with Leon Trotsky. Later, Trotsky and his wife came to live with the Riveras while hiding out there as they sought sanctuary from the Soviet Union. And once again, Frida had an affair with Trotsky, which upset his wife and sent them packing, and eventually, they were found and Trotsky was assassinated.

Frida died on July 13th, 1954. It was said she died of a pulmonary embolism, but some others say she may have taken her own life with the many medications she took to dull her constant physical pain. In her last year she suffered pneumonia and gangrene in her leg, which was consequently, amputated at the knee. A few days before Frida died. she wrote in her diary:

 

“I hope the exit is joyful – and I hope never to return – Frida” 

 

Today, Frida’s home in Coyoacán, a borough in Mexico City, known as the ‘Blue House’ – “Casa Azul”, is a museum housing many of Frida’s works and relics and a pre-Columbian urn containing her ashes. After Frida’s passing, in Diego’s autobiography, he writes that the most tragic day of his life was when Frida died, adding his regret that only too late did he realize that the best part of his life was the love he held for Frida.

 

Fun facts:

  • Frida was known for her ‘strong dark hairline’ across her lip and her almost unibrow above her eyes.
  • Frida lied about her age, telling people she was born in 1910 when the Mexican revolution began.
  • Frida appeared on the 1937 cover of American Vogue magazine in an article entitled Senoras of Mexico.
  • Frida and one of her sisters were briefly jailed as suspects of Leon Trotsky’s murder, but were soon cleared.
  • In 1953 just before Frida’s leg was amputated and she suffered with terrible pain, her first solo art exhibition was to take place in Mexico at the Galería Arte Contemporaneo. Kahlo was on bed rest and wasn’t about to miss her first solo exhibition so she stubbornly went by ambulance on a stretcher and had her bed moved to the event. It was a year later when Frida died.
  • Like many artists during their time, Frida wasn’t fully as famous in life as she was in death. Most of her adult life she was referred to as Diego’s wife rather than the talented artist recognition she didn’t gain respect for until after her death.
  • Frida’s fame was hugely acknowledged in the 1970s with the pop culture explosion. At this time women were starting to stand up to be counted and students questioned the exclusions of non Western artists. Also at this time was the coming out of the gay community, which also commended Frida for her openness about her sexuality and her fierce pride for her Mexican roots.

 

Frida Kahlo
I bought this painting of Frida Kahlo from an artist, on the beach. I watched him paint other Frida images and chose this one, which depicts her beauty and strength.

 

I also purchased on my numerous visits to Mexico, a beautiful beach coverup with a portrait of Frida painted on the back, as well as a beach bag with Frida’s face embroidered on the bag.

 

Frida Kahlo

 

(Note: the material is wrinkled, not her face)

 

Frida Kahlo

 

 

Click on the link below to see some of Frida’s beautiful art and more!

https://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org/

 

Check out this mini view into various aspects of Frida’s colorful life.

Biography

 

Some great photos of Frida and Diego and more famous quotes, click this link:

https://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/en/frida-kahlo-en/quotes/

 

If you ever get a chance to watch, I saw a fabulous movie of the life of Frida, starring Selma Hayek as Frida, and it was a fantastic accounting of Frida’s life with a parade of stars. The biographical movie was made in 2002 and was simply called Frida, although Frida was far from simple. You can check out more about the movie specs below:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120679/

 

©DGKaye2020

bitmo live laugh love

 

Sunday Book Review – Watching the Daisies by Brigid Gallagher

Book reviews by D.G. Kaye

 

Today’s Sunday Book Review is for Watching The Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow by Brigid Gallagher. A beautiful autobiographical journey of life, challenges and a journey to healing.

 

 

Blurb:

If you enjoyed “Eat, Pray, Love-You will love this travel memoir!”

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

 

    • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease

 

    • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms

 

    • Entering a new life of SLOW

 

    • Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

 

    • Brigid learns many

insights

    •  about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being:

“First learn to love thyself.”

 

My 5 Star Review:

 

In this beautiful autobiographic by Brigid Gallagher, she takes us through her journey through beautiful locales painting beautiful imagery, and draws us into her trials and tribulations with ongoing health issues and her road to finding healing and solace.

We get to travel vicariously through the author from her wonderful childhood in Ireland through her many moves and travels to places such as: India, Rome, Bali, Madeira and more! With chronic immune system issues and flare ups, Gallagher is driven to study natural therapies, and shares her proficient lessons through her learning the healing powers of crystals, aromatherapy, reflexology, herbs, gardening, and feng shui, just to name a few of the author’s accomplishments.

Gallagher demonstrates her passion for life and learning, and how to enjoy life despite life’s interruptions and curve balls. If you enjoyed Eat Pray Love, you’ll love this book!

 

Memoir Bytes: – The 10 Red Flags I Didn’t Pay Attention To – Domestic Abuse

Vision perception - Memoirs

 

“Oh c’mon Deb, you never give a guy a chance,” my bestie Bri lectured on. “You have too many stipulations about dating before you let anyone into your life.”

 

I was managing an office for a PR firm when I met ‘him’. He’d drop by once a week to pick up work as a freelance editor, After five or six visits and a couple of flirty chats with ‘him’ he’d asked me out for dinner and I accepted,

‘He’ was somewhat handsome and at least gave some interesting conversation. He mentioned his failed marriage and almost had me feeling sorry for him. But as I am ever the skeptic, I always believed there are two sides to every story. It only took me a few more months to discover why he was most likely the ‘dumpee’.

We continued to date despite my nagging little doubts about things I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my inner alarm system signaled something was amiss with this man, yet, my curiosity got the better of me. So I continued to date him. ‘His’ personality went from hot to cold – sometimes acting affectionate and sometimes downright mean – a streak I learned to fear.

Almost a year had passed and as so many of us do in life, I got complacent. I was in my early thirties when I had brainwashed myself into thinking this was the lot I was dealt, so I better make the best of it, instead of asking, Is this all there is? Don’t I deserve some of those tingly butterflies in my stomach when I’m kissed by the man I’m supposed to be loving?

Six more years went by I spent with ‘him’. In the earlier stages I had resolved myself to thinking that if I left, maybe I’d never get married. I settled for a roller coaster relationship. I thought I could ‘fix’ him. I thought nobody’s life is perfect. I learned to dance around his moods and fits of anger with great caution. After all, I’d made my choice. And like many other women in my situation – women who feel compelled to stay in toxic relationships, I thought I was stuck in that relationship for life.

It took a good few years until I realized myself, and with the constant badgering of friends and loved ones that I became a shadow of my former self. I became quiet, complacent, and had lost any self-esteem I’d worked so hard my whole life to build by allowing a man to demean, threaten and possess me. I would spend the last three years of that relationship making plans to get out of it. But finally I was free. It wasn’t as easy as just picking up and leaving as there became financial issues involved and threats I had to weigh out – would he make good on his word that if I tried to leave he’d make sure that nobody else would have me?

After my escape, I never felt fully free to talk about what went on in that relationship. When I did manage to escape, I was stalked for another two years. That feeling of being watched never goes away.

~~~

Many women in abusive relationships stay because they don’t see any alternatives, Some are reliant on their abuser’s financial aid and trade off freedom for captivity because of it. Some women are made to feel so worthless that they feel they are almost deserving of their situation. There are many reasons why women can’t seem to walk away, or run for their lives from toxic relationships. But there is always a way. When I finally got away, the concerns about my financial situation and how I was going to get by with the bills became the size of a raindrop when I compared it to how it felt to be alive and free. Doors do open. People who care will stand by and help us. There are also government programs and shelters to help women in these situations.

 

Red Flags to Pay Attention to Which are Unacceptable for a Healthy Relationship:

  • Being demeaned
  • Threats or blackmail
  • Uncomplimentary
  • Bossing around – making all the decisions, uncompromising
  • Raising a hand to you (even once is a flag of things to come)
  • No regard for your feelings or thoughts
  • Telling you what you can and cannot do
  • Making you feel insignificant
  • Criticizes everything you do
  • Apologizes, cries, begs you not leave and after, continues to do all of the above

 

There is absolutely no logical reason for remaining in an abusive relationship no matter what we think we’re sacrificing if we leave. The only sacrifice is ourselves when we stay.- D.G. Kaye

 

Last month Sally Cronin put up a lovely post in honor of International Women’s Day. I highly recommend this read. And besides the article itself, there is much to take in from the comments as well. Please visit Sally’s post by clicking the link below.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-coffee-morning-in-honour-of-international-womens-day-pressforprogress/comment-page-1/#comment-134647

 

****Don’t forget to vote for your favorite bloggers for the Annual Bloggers Bash. I’ve been nominated for ‘Best Pal’ Blogger. Please VOTE HERE for your favorite Bloggers. This is the last week to vote before voting closes!

Memoir Bytes: Forgiveness? Love? The Power of Money – Backstory from Conflicted Hearts

Memoir Bytes

Vision perception - Memoirs

 

Sometimes I look back in reflection at some of the poignant moments in life, at some of the characters in my family. I like to analyze in retrospect, how I felt about a certain situation while emotions were running high, and interpret them later in time by dissecting some of those events to see how I handled the situation while experiencing the emotional moment and if my perceptions were accurate.

 

This particular incident recently resurfaced in my memory. I try to look for the compassion I may have missed back then while originally feeling confusion and resentment. As a memoir writer, I tend to do this with many of life’s difficult situations I’ve encountered to assess and better understand not just my perspective but what the other parties concerned may have been feeling. So today I’m going to bring up a sad memory about my father’s death. It seemed only fitting to write about this today when January 9th was the day I buried my father in 1991.

The situation was tragic enough that my father had died suddenly and out of country, but with a dysfunctional family background to add to the mix, there were many more mixed emotions presented at that time.

My paternal grandmother had been dead for a few years prior to my father’s death. And my dad was the only child left of my grandfather’s – a man who’d been dominated by his overbearing, bossy wife throughout his marriage. My dad had one older brother who had been disowned, completely banished by his parents, and consequently, from all of our lives when the edict had come down from my grandmother twenty-five years prior. “We shall speak no more of his name” were her words. And so it was written. And so it was done.

Dad and my estranged uncle Don ran the family business with their father up until that fateful day when something huge went down. I was only about 6 or 7 years old at the time and my investigative listening skills were already fine-tuned from growing up in a volatile and emotional roller coaster household, where listening in the shadows always gave me a leg up on what I could expect come tomorrow. But despite my efforts, I wasn’t permitted to ask questions without being reprimanded for doing so, consequently, much about what I learned about this occurrence was from the chatter that went on after the event at my grandparents’ house and afterward in my own home while I listened to my mother tell her sisters and friends.

To this day, I still don’t know the whole reasoning behind the incident that had my uncle banished for life, but what I got from it was, my quick-tempered uncle grew very angry at his father one day at work and pegged his dad up against the outside brick wall and was stopped short by my father who heard the ruckus and he restrained my uncle from throwing a brick at my grandfather’s head, as he shouted in anger with what seemed the end of his tolerance for his father’s orders. After the feud was broken up by my dad, my uncle was thrown out from the family business – and the family.

When my stern grandmother was informed about what had transpired, she made an instant declaration ( I heard it with my own ears), her son Don was now dead to my grandparents. They even sat the traditional ‘Shiva’ period as we do in our religion to mourn the dead.

We never saw my uncle or our cousins again for almost a quarter of a century.

On January 9th, 1991, 4 children and their grandfather sat in the mourner’s room at the funeral home before it was time for the funeral to begin in the chapel. The door opened and a strange man walked in. He looked as though he was in his early 60s, dressed in a dark suit and tie, slighted hunched over with age, he kept his eyes focused toward the floor as he entered while adjusting his yarmulke (skullcap). I leaned over to my one brother and asked him who this man was that just invaded our mourner’s space. My brother replied, “It’s Uncle Don.”

My heart skipped a beat. In my dire moments of grief, I didn’t know what to make of the sudden appearance of my long lost uncle. Within the same one whirlwind moment of emotions, I felt curious, angry, and heartbroken. I never said a word to him and moments later we proceeded into the chapel for the ceremony then out to the cemetery. We buried our father on that freezing cold day in January and my Uncle Don stood along right beside us.

After burying my father, we proceeded to my younger brother’s house to commence the Shiva where we’d sit in mourning for one week from morning til sundown and receive guests and visitors who would come by to keep us company and pay their condolences.

We’d just arrived from the cemetery, and took our respective seats on the cushionless couches, as tradition warranted for the immediate mourners. Immediate family of the lost loved one are the mourners – parents, children and siblings. And then into my brother’s home walked Uncle Don. That’s when emotions were escalated. My siblings and I were dumbfounded, wondering why he had suddenly showed up after a quarter of a century to his brother’s funeral and for mourning. This was a brother who never even went to his own mother’s funeral a few years earlier.

Suspicions, doubts, and curiosity ran through each one of us and before any of us even voiced our opinion to the others, my grandfather stood up, embraced his long lost son and announced aloud, “I lost one son, but I gained another.”

Who does that?

Resentment built up within me that the complete stranger to us could walk into my brother’s home the day we buried our father and our grandfather greeted him like he was the consolation gift God had given him – the man who threatened to kill him a quarter century past, when his only other son who had been nothing but obedient at his beck and call for all his life had saved his father’s life.

Many thoughts rolled through my head that day – why did he show up decades later? Was there remorse? Was his sudden arrival back into my grandfather’s life for monetary gain?

I felt heart-broken when I lost my father, but I also managed to feel sorry for my grandfather too, for losing his only son who had stood by him all his life. I was never close with my grandfather because of the years growing up around him, feeling no love or compassion from him or from my grandmother – the price I paid for my mother’s deceit when she purposefully got pregnant with me to get my father to marry her. I was a constant reminder to them of my parent’s union.

Because I harbored a life-long resentment toward my grandfather, it wasn’t difficult for me to speak to him with snark and sarcasm. I never had a problem letting someone know what I thought once I moved away from home and found my voice. The four of us confronted him when we were alone together, questioning how he could welcome our uncle with open arms as though the past had never happened. We didn’t hesitate to let him know we suspected the only reason our uncle had shown up was because he knew he was the only child left and there was plenty of money to be gained if he got himself back in my grandfather’s good graces and ultimately back into the will. My grandfather didn’t seem to care. In his own moments of grief I think he felt alone with the loss of his beloved wife and no children left, and so he clung to whatever rope was thrown to him despite motives. Sad.

Us four kids had spent much of our growing up years at my grandparents’ home, despite our reluctance or desire to do so. We were to become the inheritors, but as suspected, my uncle did manage to get involved with the finances. Sure there was some left in the end of it all, but not much. And whatever was left was not divided evenly between us four. I got the biggest shaft of all of us, and that was quite expected. But I never used that against my own siblings because, as I learned well, money had the great potential to divide a family.

@DGKaye 2018

 

Guest Author with a New Book – Lynette Davis – Even Rain is Just Water – Memoir

New book feature

 

Today I’m delighted to feature fellow memoir writer and friend, Lynette Davis here with her debut book, her memoir, Even Rain is Just Water – A Memoir of redemption, rejection and revelation.  I endorsed Lynette’s book and I can tell you that it is a heart-wrenching read. Lynette’s story about growing up with an emotionally abusive mother and her unfaltering will to survive will grip a reader from start to finish with her beautifully told story of emotional abuse. It will have the reader waiting, waiting to learn when the author has had enough, showing her strength and endurance and applauding her for remaining sane and using her pain to better herself in life instead of becoming just another statistic of abuse.

 

Lynette runs 2 blogs  –  The Broken Vessel where she shares stories and articles about people with experiences living with a narcissist and other emotionally traumatic stories and Memoir Notes  where you will find articles about writing, self publishing and more.

Lynette Davis

 

About Lynette:

 

Lynette Davis is an educator, author and survivor. Her memoir Even Rain Is Just Water draws attention to narcissism’s mounting prevalence, as she joins the growing number of people speaking out about the ill effects of such relationships. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is lack of empathy which occasions emotional abuse.

Davis received her B.A. in English from California Baptist University and has facilitated writing workshops in the Inland Empire, California. She also studied Rhetoric and Composition for two years at California State University San Bernardino. In addition, her short narrative, “The Fatal Blow,” is featured in the anthology I am Subject: Women Awakening: Discovering Our Personal Truths Fall 2014, a collection of stories featuring women  re-claiming their lives in life-altering moments.

Davis currently lives in Southern California with her family. Even Rain Is Just Water is her first book.

 

Even Rain is Just Water

Get this book on Amazon!

Blurb:

“Even at three, I knew Ne-Ne and I had different mamas. Ne-Ne’s mama loved and cherished her. My mama despised and rejected me. Ne-Ne left a sweet taste in her mama’s mouth. I left a bitter taste in my mama’s mouth–even though our mamas were the same person.”

 

Even Rain Is Just Water tells how a young girl comes to terms with her dysfunctional upbringing, first in Florida during the Civil Rights Era and later in Southern California. Lyn and her younger sister are initially raised among their wealthy paternal grandparents. But one day, their mother packs them into the car and moves to Southern California.

 

This is the beginning of a difficult nomadic childhood for Lyn who does not have her mother’s love and has been separated from her father’s loving extended family. She goes from living in a protective enclave to utter loneliness and boredom in physically and emotionally empty living spaces and begins to internalize her mother’s negative feelings of her. That is what Lyn fights to overcome, although it is clear she doesn’t fully accept her mother’s opinion of her, as fact.

 

Lyn’s main goal is to escape her oppressive and non-supportive home environment. When she runs away to live with a former neighbor, it sets the stage for her eventual liberation from her mother.

 

But many years later when Lyn finds herself homeless with three children in tow, she’s forced to deal with the demons of her childhood–being unwanted, unloved and rejected. As she embarks on a search for a place to call home, her sole desire is to give her children what she lacked growing up–a sense of belonging and security. But it takes a hospital scare and a lifetime of emotional pain to propel Lyn out of the shadows of guilt and shame and into the light of faith and forgiveness.

 

A poignant narrative of rejection, revelation and redemption, Even Rain Is Just Water doesn’t just show how childhood trauma transcends into adulthood, it offers hope to adult survivors.

 

 

I met Lynette when she searched me out as a memoir writer who also endured emotional abuse and neglect by my own mother. Lynette contacted me to ask if I’d beta read her memoir in its earlier stages. After learning what her book was about I didn’t hesitate to agree to offer my opinions. The subject matter was stunning and I read through it in 2 days because I couldn’t pry myself away from reading it. We’ve been friends ever since. Then a few months ago, Lynette contacted me asking if I was willing to write an editorial for her book. I was thrilled that she thought of me to do so and even more humbled to have my few words imprinted in her book. This was my editorial:

 

My Editorial for Lynette’s book:

 

“A remarkable and heart-wrenching accounting of Davis’ undeniable courage and tolerance for suffering a lifetime of conflict, adversity, and emotional abuse by her mother’s refusal to love her own daughter. Davis’ relentless efforts to forgive, and her unfaltering hope to form a bond with her undeserving mother are chronicled in this riveting and heartbreaking read. I commend Lynette Davis for not only her courage to endure an emotionally torturous life with a mother who didn’t deserve one ounce of Davis’ compassion, but to have the fortitude to write this book.”

D.G. Kaye, author of P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy            

 

Thank you for being here today Lynette, and for sharing your journey of survival with us. I know there are unfortunately, many of us who’ve lived through emotional abuse and I’m sure even those who were lucky enough not to, are interested in our stories because we can show them that there is always hope and a way to rise above. Your story is a testament to surviving and thriving despite where we may begin. I know your book will be a great success.

 

Lynette, I read your book and as a fellow memoir writer who also endured an emotionally absent mother, I can appreciate that although our issues of struggles are similar, no two people’s journeys are the same. Can you please share with us, despite your fragile and broken self-esteem, how you managed to put yourself back together after years of suffering horrendous emotional abuse by your mother?

 

Debby, once I realized that I could not change anyone but myself, that no matter what I did, I would always be a scapegoat to my mother, I made the difficult decision to go no-contact. Difficult because going no-contact generally involves the entire family. Even with everything that I had experienced with my mother, it was still difficult. But the process of no-contact is how I was able to put myself and begin the healing process which led to me writing the book.

 

I know you’ve worked on this book for a few years now. You also told me you were apprehensive about publishing this book because of family finding out about it. What was the turning point that made you decide to go forth and publish?

 

My turning point was after I’d written the first draft of my memoir and I ran across a blog post about narcissistic mothers and a book entitled Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Karol McBride. By that time, I knew a little about narcissism (having been married to a narcissist), but I was so deep into denial that I couldn’t put my hands around the idea that my mother was like one of my ex-husbands. But when I went back through my memoir, a few weeks later, I could see that their personalities were the same. What made me consider and ultimately decide to move forward with publishing my memoir for the general public is realizing that I was not alone, that there were other daughters like myself.

 

You carried such an enormous emotional load since childhood while growing up in the civil rights era. Do you think the prejudice of the times added to your woes?

 

In hindsight, I don’t believe it had much impact on my personal woes. Although I do believe there is a correlation between racism and narcissism, racism I believe, is narcissism on a much larger scale. I don’t believe the prejudices of the Civil Rights Era added to my woes because we lived separate (segregated) as blacks did during that era. Firstly, I did not see how whites lived, in that they were not visible to me, at least not on a daily basis. Secondly, emotionally, I was too occupied, trying to cope, with my mother.

 

You tolerated so much hurt and neglect, yet bit your tongue stoically throughout being lashed out at by your mother, especially as you grew up and had children to protect and nowhere else to turn to at times besides your mother. What gave you strength and kept you sane?

 

I’m not sure if it was strength or simply training. My mother had thoroughly convinced me that she had a right to treat me however she wanted, that I didn’t have any rights, whatsoever–about anything. On the other hand, I often removed myself by daydreaming. Now that I look back, I believe that God had his hand on me.

 

In your story, you demonstrate how your mother treated your sister better than she did you. Besides neglect you received from your mother, how did you feel about the difference in the way she treated your sister? And did you harbor anger or jealousy towards your sister?

 

The difference my mother made between my sister and I was daily. So it was always front and center. As a teenager, I definitely dealt with anger and jealousy issues. And I began to perceive my mother and sister as one unit. It was as though my sister began where my mother ended. At some point. And I always felt that she should have done more, as a sister. However, in writing my memoir, I could see that my sister was trying to cope with an emotionally absent mother as well.

 

Do you have a relationship at all now with your sister? If so, how do you open your heart to her after she never defended you growing up?

 

No I do not have a relationship with my sister. However, after writing my book, I did open my heart to her because I realized I wasn’t the only one affected by our dysfunctional household. But I realized we’re on totally different planes.

 

Is your mother still living? If so, does she know you published the book?

 

Yes, my mother is still living. She’s almost eighty years old. And I don’t know if she knows that I published a book.

 

Have you found forgiveness for your mother’s wrongdoings?

 

Yes. However, it took decades for me to arrive at forgiveness. Once I realized that I survived my experience for a reason. Being able to see my experience as a spiritual battle, I gained a different perspective on my mother.

 

Can you please tell us a little about what inspired you to write Even Rain is Just Water? And please share an excerpt here for my readers.

 

The idea to write my story came to me when my first grandchild was about a year old. I wanted him (and my children) to know my story, and why I’d made some of the choices I made in life.
On a personal level, I was inspired to tell my story to facilitate my healing. Then I felt compelled to develop and publish my story when I realized there were countless other daughters with stories similar to mine.

 

Excerpt

 

 

Prologue

 

Riverside, California, 1996

 

I imagine I look like mother goose walking with her baby ducklings as my three children trail me, one behind the other. The convenience store is a good ten blocks away. It seems more like twenty. Although it’s only a few minutes before seven o’clock, we’ve been up since day break. And the morning sun is beaming down on us like it’s the middle of August, instead of the first week of June. My children must understand the gravity of our situation because they’re as quiet as three mice as we trek to the convenience store. This is not our normal routine. Twenty-four hours ago, I couldn’t have imagined the events of last night, or that I would be walking down the main boulevard with my three children this morning. For the umpteenth time in the last fifteen minutes, I check my beeper. No pages.

 

Although I’m dressed for walking—a pair of just-above-the-knee gray biker shorts and a tee-shirt which is what I slept in last night, and a pair of tennis shoes with no socks, I feel weird like I’m half naked. I didn’t even bother to comb my hair this morning. Luckily, I’m sporting a short Halle Berry look, and the slightly disheveled look is in. I wonder what my children think about all the drama of last night as I marvel at their resilience. Despite everything our family has been through these last couple of months, they’ve never complained. My daughter, the youngest of the trio, is doing a good job keeping up with her brothers and me. I thank God, they’re such good troopers. We’re used to walking from time to time when my Jeep Cherokee acts up. Right now, it’s parked in front of mom’s house where it’s been all week. As we walk down the boulevard, I contemplate my situation. I’ve run out of options. What am I going to do?

 

We get to the convenience store. And I dial my grandmother’s telephone number from the phone booth, just outside. It’s almost seven thirty now, so it’s close to ten-thirty in Florida where she lives. I hear the phone ringing loudly through the phone lines and envision my grandmother, a pert seventy-nine-year-old who still drives herself wherever she wants to go, making her way to the phone. I let the phone ring awhile, to give Mother—that’s what her children and grandchildren call her, time to get to the phone—and me time to get my emotions in check. I’m still reeling from the events of last night. I need to tell someone what happened, to help me process it.

 

After six or seven rings, my grandmother picks up the telephone.

 

“Hello,” she says, in a sweet southern drawl.

 

“Hey, Mother. How you doing?”

 

“I’m doing fine. How you?” she asks, raising her voice higher when she says you.

 

“Mother, you’re not going to believe this.”

 

“What? What happened?”

 

Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us Lynette. I wish you much success with the book, and I know it will definitely be an eye-opener for many.