Happy April everyone!
I was beginning to think winter would never end. Although, as I’m writing this, there is snow on the ground in Ohio. I’ve just finished King’s book, and I’m starting Zane’s. Black and White has echoes of both my grandmother and grandfather. Writing it, stirred up a lot of memories for me.
We’re about to get deep. Are you ready?
My Grandmother and the Man in Black
I associate music with my maternal grandmother. Growing up in Tennessee, she didn’t have an easy life. Her dad died when she was a young teenager. She dropped out of school and took over the role of mother while her mom worked two jobs to support the family. Then her high school sweetheart died in Pearl Harbor. Music was her solace, and she loved to sing along to the radio.
I must’ve gotten that gene from her because I sang in my high school choir. In her teenage years, she had an obsession with Frank Sinatra. In her later years, Johnny Cash was her favorite. She had a jukebox in her house, and she’d play his songs over and over. Back in the day, my mom and grandma took a road trip to the Grand Ole Opry The Man in Black was playing and my grandmother had a ball. By the way, if you haven’t seen Walk the Line, you should watch it. It’s all about his romance with June Carter.
My Grandfather and Bipolar Disorder
In high school, I was visiting Las Vegas with my best friend and her family. We were having the best time (shows, a bit of illegal gambling, and running around the town without parental supervision). Anyway, when I was checking in with my mother, my aunt was on the other line. My grandfather had “lost it” in her words, and she needed my mom’s help immediately.
My relationship with my grandfather is complicated. He only had a 2nd-grade education and worked on his family’s farm to help support them. Incredibly, he lifted himself out of poverty. He joined the military, married my grandmother, and they both moved out to California. He was stationed there, loading ships for the war effort. Afterward, he got a factory job making good money in Ohio.
He was a man of many contradictions. Sometimes, he brooded in a darkened room, staring out the window, smoking a cigarette. My mom said he often fell into deep, unsettling depressions. And he could be casually cruel during those dark times. Some of the things he said to her, she can remember word for word. Other times, he was charming and whimsical. He loved to memorize jokes and make me laugh. I never really knew what I’d get.
After his second wife passed away, it triggered a breakdown. He had to be hospitalized, for fear he’d hurt himself or someone else. When everything was settled, my grandfather was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My mom and aunt finally had answers to some lingering questions. Although, the medication he took had terrible side effects. And my grandfather was a cantankerous old guy anyway. The last year of his life was difficult.
I told you it was deep, and I delivered. There was something therapeutic about writing this book, and I’m glad I didn’t shy away from difficult topics. I can’t wait for you to read Black and White!
Until next time…