Pennies from Heaven?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My apologies for the blogging delay ... from some of the responses, you'd have thought I was the one who forced Paula Abdul to leave Idol. Settle, everyone! Free lithium for all next time, OK?

But I've been prepping for my writing seminar next week (testing out my ruler, my chalk and walking around in my smart-sexy teacher heels) ...

... guest-blogging for The Debutante Ball (www.thedebutanteball.com ... I'm a Deb for a day on Saturday, August 15!) as well as for www.abunchofwordz.wordpress.com) ...

while readying myself for the next leg of my book to northern Michigan (Hello, resort towns of Petoskey, Gaylord and Traverse City!) ...

and also nervously pacing/waiting to hear my editor and publisher's reaction to my next memoir, tentatively titled, WHY IS SANTA TAKING DADDY'S LIPITOR?: And Other Heartwarming Holiday Tales." (Yes, it's a holiday memoir ... one to which I think we can all relate -- filled with loads of love and dysfunction -- but this book has a twist: It's a FULL YEAR of holidays, including Easter, Arbor Day, Mother's Day, 4th of July, anniversary, even Barbie's big b-day.) I adore this book, and think it has a chance to resonate with loads of readers. I mean, what defines family more than its holidays? What defines America more than its holidays? And each family celebrates every holiday in such a unique way ... and, boy, did we.

Speaking of family, it was recently my mom's birthday. As you know, she passed away in late June, and she would have been 71 on August 1.

Each day brings a new set of difficulties and triumphs, laughter and tears, and boatloads of heartache. I miss her desperately, and some days I just want to go back to sleep so I can dream of her, see us again floating in the creek, our butts hanging through innertubes. To help me celebrate her life, Gary has planted a memorial garden in her honor, which I can see right outside our kitchen window. He's filled it with some of her favorite plants and colors (PURPLE! LOTS OF PURPLE!), as well as a cross, a photo of her from our old cabin watering her beloved butterfly bushes (which attracted hundreds), and a stone etched with the word that truly defined my mom: "Grace." I have watered that garden -- with hose and tears -- many times already. It's a wonderful place to sit and think about my mom, my life, my writing, my path in life.

After my mom's funeral, I brought many things back with me, which I am slowly going through when I have the strength (the photos, right now, are a bit too tough). However, I discovered -- in this old Get Smart-esque briefcase -- my old coin collection. And it's filled with treasure: Coins from the 1800s, buffalo nickels, ancient silver dollars, bicentennial souvenirs. I forgot how much time I spent collecting coins -- looking for them, polishing them, putting them in protective coverings, researching their value -- with my grandfather. It was my mom's idea, this coin collecting, as a way to bond me to her father. And it worked. We spent countless hours with our eyes over a magnifying glass, studying coins, talking, getting to know one another. I remember bringing my "finds" to my grampa, and he would beam. Slowly, however, I grew tired -- as any kid does -- of this hobby, and I moved on ... to Pez. (You heard me ... I was a chubby freak as a kid. I used to mainline that nasty-ass candy, but I loved my little footless friends. And I write about them in WHY IS SANTA TAKING DADDY'S LIPITOR?)

Gary and I spent a few hours the other day looking at the coins, which, of course, led us to looking up their current value online. Some have increased greatly, some are about the same, and some are worth a tidy sum of cash. But I already know I will never sell them. They will stay in that case forever, in my writing office, just like my Pez, and remind me -- as the memorial garden does -- of my mom.

Because no money can ever replace the memories of her, or how she secretly bonded me with her father, or the fact that she was, like the stone in our memorial garden says, the epitome of "grace".

9 Comments:

Blogger Alan said...

Wade,

I'm so looking forward to reading the holiday book! What a beautiful person your mom must have been. I'm so sorry for your loss, but you have such great memories to remember her by. Don't be sad. You'll see her again.

Love from the Ozarks,

~Alan & Mary

August 9, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Gramma Kristine said...

Wade,
A couple of days after I finished your book, I came across a few paragraphs in "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather that echoed your dilemma of wanting to be both a "country mouse"one day and a "city mouse" the next.
The last few paragraphs of Part II
Neighboring Fields, section IV seemed so serendipitous(depending
your beliefs, maybe synchronicity is more to blame)I felt I had to share it with you. Obviously, Willa Cather's Alexandra decided
(like you)to take the best from
both worlds. So don't feel guilty
anymore about your "escapes" to the
dark side i.e. Starbucks, Kenneth
Cole!! Gramma Kristine

August 11, 2009 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

You write so beautifully, Wade! Thanks for stumbling into my blog and leaving a comment. My birthday is this Thursday- what a great birthday gift:) Hey... I admit it, I'm easily pleased. Comments, cash, it's all good.

I'm so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. I'm glad that she will live on so vividly through your writing.

Take care & good luck with your workshop!
Jessica
@overflowingbookshelf

August 11, 2009 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger pansyfan said...

Wade,
Penny and I are counting down the days until your holiday memoir is releases. We could go toe to toe on who had the most disfunction during the holidays... But more importantly, about pennies from heaven... my Aunt told me of a phenomenon in which whenever you found a penny, someone in heaven is thinking of you. I can't tell you how many time this has brightened my day, to wonder which one of my loved ones happened to toss a penny my way just to remind me of them. As if I would have forgotten. One time, in a garden, I even found myself standing on a pile of 200 pennies, someone had dumped out of a sock. Blessings are all around us.

August 17, 2009 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger nonny said...

Wade, I was wandering through Barnes & Noble and saw your book which I purchased because as I thumbed through it, it made me laugh hysterically. Ironically, my husband and I, on a whim, quit our jobs and are moving to the country in Iowa .. in 2 days. We both grew up there and 2 months ago started planning our escape from a city in Virginia to our very own country place. So your book had me in stitches and gave me some pointers too, I feel like I am already ahead of the game! thanks to you.
I will be looking for your other books once I get to Iowa. You are a wonderful writer and I am so sorry to hear about your mom. Oh and even though I am old, you and Gary are adorable and make a great couple!

August 25, 2009 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Wade Rouse said...

Nonny! GOOD LUCK! Let me know how it goes, and what you think of the book when finished. Gary and I are thinking of you ... (Hint: Don't wear your Prada boots to shovel snow, hike, or shoo the deer out of your yard!)
xx,
Wade

August 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm only on page 65 of your book "At Least in the City..." and I can't stop laughing! I have a secret yen to move north too...but a bit further like north of Traverse City. The winters scare me though, I lived in the Upper Peninsula for 6 years and I know about snow. And solitude. I don't think I can convince my husband to move so I am enjoying your story instead! Thanks for writing it!
-Dawn

August 26, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

PS: My mom died 5 years ago. I know how tough it is. I still haven't gone through all of her things. But I can give you hope that in time, though you will always miss her every day, missing her won't hurt so much. Hugs.

August 26, 2009 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Wade Rouse said...

Dawn! Thank you for the lovely messages ... they mean a lot! Enjoy AT LEAST ... and just live vicariously through me for now, OK? xx, Wade

August 27, 2009 at 6:00 AM  

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