Friday, January 10, 2020

My Mother, My Best Friend

Helen (left) and Dr. Mel (right) having fun during an editing
session of the book "Never Stop Running" which honors Dr.
Mel's mother on the front cover. RIP Mom.
"I'll love you through eternity!" Your baby girl.
It has only been two days since my mother, my friend has passed. I still smell her and can feel her presence although her physical body isn't here with me. My mother, Helen V. Ray, born on January 19, 1933, passed on January 8, 2020 at the age of 86. She battled and defeated cancer several times, but ultimately, the cancer spread and there wasn't anything anyone could do for her but to keep her comfortable, out of pain, and hold her hand. Her biggest fear wasn't dying, she was ready for that and to meet Jesus; her fear was dying alone. She didn't have to because as she took her last breath, she was surrounded by me; my two sisters, Caylen and Robby; my husband, Mike; my two daughters, Jamie and Kelly; her other grandsons James, Dylan, and Noah; her daughter-in-law, Christine; and under a careful watch of a dear family friend, Chris, several of her great-grandchildren Jon Axel, Aryc, and James outside playing in the yard; and her beloved dog, Bell. We all came together to honor her and the legacy she left behind. It was no surprise that most of the family was there as she was greatly loved by all. A private family ceremony is being planned and my mother requested that instead of flowers being sent that a donation to MD Anderson be made in her name, Helen V. Ray, to fight cancer.
What I find truly amazing is the fact that my mother reached so many people, some she never met. Many authors who I have had the honor of editing or publishing her book came out in droves with the well wishes, phone calls, flowers while she was alive and could enjoy them, and the prayers. I want to thank all of you especially L.A. Davis, Patricia Simon, Frieda Lopez, Ellis Lucas, Kevin Husted, Sr., Sophie Marie White, Fireman Bob, Carmelo Rodriguez, Glyn Hainie, and Pastor Shirley Cain for everything you did for me over the last four weeks. Words cannot express enough what each of you have given to me in my mother's last days.
I believe that there are no coincidences and that God places people in each other's path for a reason. So, I'm not surprised at all that the author I chose to interview today is Amy Laundrie and her book "Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From a Joyful Heart." This book is a memoir of sorts and reflects her journey told in a collection of humorous and heartfelt stories about motherhood, teaching, nature, pets and family. Her title succinctly reflects how I feel today.  Thank you Amy for such a delightful book.


Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories from a Joyful Heart Paperback – June 1, 2018

Laugh, Cry, Reflect is a collection of short yet powerful personal stories. Some will make you laugh like when you find out why the author's 12-year-old daughter requested a home pregnancy test. Other stories may tug at your heartstrings like when you learn what item was placed on a beloved relative's casket. Many of these poignant essays will prompt you to reflect on moments from your own life. All are offerings of hope, wonder, and joy.

"These essays capture the joys, sorrows, and absurdities of moments that have universal relevance. Sometimes funny, often poignant, and always insightful, Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From a Joyful Heart is a pleasure to read." -- Kathleen Ernst, the bestselling author of thirty-six award-winning books

"A delightful collection of memories that range from emotionally moving to laugh-out-loud funny, Laundrie's book is proof of a life well-lived. As a mother, a teacher, a wife, a friend, she never holds back, because she lives each day knowing it will never come again." -- Gayle Rosengren, award-winning author of  What the Moon Said and Cold War on Maplewood Street

"This is the book you need on your night table. These bite-sized vignettes will sustain you, humor you, move you to tears, and invite you to look at your own life in a new light. Laundrie explores family, relationships, love, loss, and life with her unique and compassionate lens on the world." --Deborah Lynn Jacobs, award-winning author of Choices, Powers and The Same Difference

Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories from a Joyful Heart

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.
I'm a retired fourth-grade teacher and consider myself a goal setter. Goal setting helped me complete a half-marathon, survive two wilderness backpack trips, and earned a black belt. I enjoy playing tennis, pickleball, cross country skiing, hiking with my dog, Josie, and raising pet ducks.

What inspired you to author this book?
I began writing personal essays because of a desire to share some of my favorite stories and connect with others.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
I wanted the cover to convey joy, which the woman on the swing does.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
My mother was a reader and wanted to be a journalist. She admired authors and I was happy that she got to see several of my published books before she passed away. Various authors influenced my writing, and I was also fortunate to have many wonderful mentors and critique partners.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

As a full-time teacher and the mother of three, finding the time to write was the biggest challenge. I got up at 5:00 a.m. so I was guaranteed my writing time. I'm now retired and my family is raised, but time is still an issue. I always get up early.
Tell your readers about your book.
Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From a Joyful Heart is a unique collection of humorous and heartfelt stories about motherhood, teaching, nature, pets and family. Whether it's a description of the frightening moment when my twelve-year-old daughter asked for a home-pregnancy kit, it turned out to have a funny ending; or an account of the heart-wrenching item placed on my stepfather's casket, the stories will make readers reflect upon their own lives. They have universal truths and emotions that speak to a wide reading audience. Readers have called the stories poignant, humorous, and heartfelt testimonials to a woman’s life.

Who is your target audience, and why?

The memoir appeals to teachers since there's a section on various anecdotes based on my career in education and to animal and nature lovers. Since I tell stories about my family, including my grandchildren, the book is especially relevant to parents and grandparents.

What do you consider your greatest success in life?

My greatest achievement is successfully raising a loving family.
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
Other memoirs include anecdotes about motherhood and family, but not many include stories about teaching and raising pet ducks.