A memorial service was held for Marie yesterday morning at the church she’d been part of for more than 50 years, which David and I attended. Neither of us felt like the service quite fit Marie, but we don’t know why that was. Normally when I attend a funeral or memorial service, there is a catharsis and a feeling of closure. Both of these were missing for me, and so when I returned home, I could not concentrate on anything. At 9:30 I could not keep my eyes open, so I went to bed and slept for 11 hours.
When I awoke this morning, I realized that yesterday marked the end of one chapter of my life, and that today marks the beginning of a new chapter. Or maybe I am at an interlude: between chapters, between books, between homes, and between lifestyles. I trust that it will all unfold according to the Master’s plan, and I need to be patient and wait to find out what that means. I usually like to see a little way down the road, when I’ve driving, but in this case, I’m driving after dark, and I can see only as far as the headlights illuminate my way. I trust that whatever is in store, Marie will be with me in spirit.
Already I’ve been inspired with an idea for a different beginning of my new book, A Martyr’s Myth: Discovering the Truth About My Amish Mother. I’m in the process of making those revisions. This came because I realized that I’ve been asked for the beginning pages or chapters of my book by agents several times, and yet no one has offered to represent it. I think the new beginning will be more compelling. One thing is for sure… I have nothing keeping me from sitting down and writing this week. I do need to finish a woolen rug for a wedding gift, but I have no other outstanding commitments.
In the meantime, I have had a volley of new interest in my first two books in the last few days. It has been more than six years since Why I Left the Amish and more than three since Bonnet Strings were published. There are months that go by in which all is quiet in terms of hearing anything from readers, either through online reviews, or directly from readers who send me emails or comments on my blog. Now just in the past few days, I’ve had several people let me know they’ve read my books, plus I have two new book reviews on Amazon for Why I Left, one of which is positive, and the other negative.
I am grateful to the anonymous author of Out of a Great Need for featuring my books on her blog. It is always gratifying to find out when my books are valued by a reader, and even more so when the readers let others know they enjoyed them.
Today I also got an email from Miriam Frey, a fellow conference attendee at the Eastern Mennonite University. She left a group of Black Bumper Mennonites in Ontario, and she and I had several conversations at the conference about the parallels in our story. So thank you to Miriam Frye
You may remember that I mentioned Anna Wall, also a fellow conference attendee, in a previous blog post. She left the Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico, and she is writing her story, one blog post at a time. It starts here. (Warning: if you start, you may not be able to stop and you’ll be pulling an all-nighter).
Anna Wall and me on Eastern Mennonite University Campus
Anna has written about the conference, and she included me in her post. For the first time, I realize what it feels like to be a character in someone’s writing. Even though what she had to say was glowing, it’s weird to see myself through another person’s eyes. It’s like someone pulls out a camera and takes a candid shot when I’m least expecting it. Or like someone is holding up a mirror and I see myself in a whole different way. I suppose any of the characters I’ve written about could say that the shoe is on the other foot, and quite honestly, it’s an awkward feeling. Perhaps it’s also because I realize that Anna had me on a pedestal when she read my book and she conveys this in her post. I certainly hope by the end of the weekend she had me walking on the earth like I actually do instead of raised up like that.
It will likely be a while until I write my next post. This coming weekend, David and I will be leaving for a trip to Virginia and North Carolina. First we’ll be visiting friends in Harrisonburg, Virginia. And then we’ll be heading to Charlotte, North Carolina for my nephew’s wedding. I’ll be posting any new developments upon my return.
In closing, I want to thank all of you who read and/or commented on my last blog post. It was so healing to read your comforting and insightful words.
16 thoughts on “An Interlude”
Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing my blog (unexpected and appreciated). :) We are still discussing your books at our home this weekend…such a gift to so many.
With Great Appreciation, Gayle Ayres
Enjoy your travels and thank you for your wonderful books and blog.
You are quite welcome, and thank YOU for posting such positive thoughts about my books.
Thank you for for your good wishes, and I wish the same for you.
I so enjoyed your writing about the new chapter or interlude of your life. I find that you have an exceptional writing style that expresses your thoughts in a way I can understand.
It is excellent that you are now inspired to write a different beginning of your new book. It actually seems like a continuation of your relationship with Marie. Though she may not be here physically, her loving presence that was with you for the short years of your life is still supporting you. It seems like this will go on in more ways than you can realize now.
I like the title of the book. I used to work in a Christian Bookstore and know the value of a good title. This title speaks to all you have worked through in your life about Mem, and I trust that is the content of the book. It also shows that being a martyr personality is based on myth, not truth. Very good teaching in a few short words.
I love the way you expressed being a character in someone else’s writing!
And your smile–every picture I see of you has the same beautiful smile from the time of you in elementary school. And now that I live in an Amish community that has rampant tooth loss, I keep wondering if your Amish community was healthier and if these are your teeth and not dentures. I had always expected the Amish to be robust with health…not so here.
Bon Voyage on your trip!
Thank you, Denise, for your kind words about my writing. I so value the relationship with you dear readers. It’s what keeps me writing!
Yes, I think Marie’s spirit is with me as I craft a new beginning for my book… and my life.
So glad you like the title of my new book… that can change, of course. The publisher has the last word on titles.
Thank you for your compliments about my smile. Those are my teeth… I was fortunate to have been born with good, strong teeth. Mem had dentures and Datt was toothless, so I am indeed fortunate.
There are healthy Amish and then there are those who pay no attention to their health needs. I think sometimes people expect too much from the Amish… they are human and have many (if not all) of the problems we see in any culture.
Thank you for your good travel wishes. It’ll be good to get away.
I appreciate your reply, Saloma. I don’t think I expect too much from the Amish; I think I’ve been misled by the way they have been portrayed. And this is one reason I appreciate you, because you are shedding light so we can understand the reality that the Amish are human with many/all the problems we see in any culture.
The media and “scholarship” portrayals of the Amish is exactly what gives people the idea that the Amish have fewer/different problems than other cultures. Many people’s expectations come from these very sources.
Though I didn’t mean to become an interpreter of the very culture I came from, there is a great need for this from those of us who’ve lived an Amish life and no longer have a stake in portraying them as more wholesome, spiritual, or the model of a good society. They do illuminate the problems in the mainstream culture around hyper-capitalism, hyper-materialism, etc. In that way, we can learn from them. But they do walk on the same earth as everyone else and they are human like the rest of us.
Thank you for letting me know you appreciate these insights.
Isn’t life exciting! When I was younger, much younger I thought old age is going to be frightening and dull but I don’t find it that way.
Katie, your comments made me chuckle. Didn’t we all see old age as something different when we were young than what it turns out to be. I wonder if death (or life thereafter) is going to be different than we envision it from our perspective now? In other words, every stage of life has been different than I’d anticipated… why wouldn’t that be so with the time when the sun sets on my life? I know this question is on my mind right now with the loss of Marie. It has me wondering…
My thoughts are the afterlife will be so different than what we were taught as children. My thought at this time, I don’t know how the afterlife will be and I am looking forward to be surprised.
Katie, these are my thoughts exactly. Well put.
Saloma, I never tire of your writing style. What a gift you have. You are so good at drawing a person in and making them feel like you are talking directly to them and them alone. I am in awe of it. I got to say I’m with Denise, you have the best smile! Your whole face lights up and it becomes like that of a child. You may have turned 60, but you are truly ageless. I always want to just reach into the computer screen and hug the heck out of you!! Ha!! I can not wait for your new book to come out. I’m sure it will be a blessing to many. Pray you have a wonderful time away with David. Sounds like just the medicine you need. Some times things become clearer when we step away from it all for a while.
Ah, Pamela, you are making me blush! You always have such warm and complimentary things to say.
I can tell you this… when you and I finally meet in person (I’m positive we’re destined to), I WILL hug the heck out of you!
Thank you for your good wishes. God bless you and your family.
Ha!!!! I hope we do meet some day, God willing. You can be sure I will be hugging you right back!! Again, have a wonderful time away. Please give my best to that wonderful husband of yours and to your boys.
Pamela, I read your comments to David last night. He got a cute smile when I read the part about the wonderful husband of mine. Thank you for your good wishes!
Saloma, you are so right…Anna Walls blog is one that is hard to lay down….I started at a time I had a few hours. I could’ve gone on & on & on. The Amish & the Old Colony Mennonites have much in common. Thanks for sharing her blog!
I know, right? I am waiting impatiently for Anna’s next blog entry. What a writer she is!
And yes, we do have a lot in common. Until I met Anna, I didn’t know about the Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico.
You’re welcome, so glad you liked her blog.