A Month Without My Mom

Memphis Novel

It’s been a month since God brought you home. It’s been a month since that deck collapsed while we cried in disbelief over losing you. It’s been a month since your dad died beside me mere hours after you. September 3, 2021 was -without a doubt, the worst day of my life.

Susan Jean Power with her Grandchildren

The circumstances surrounding my mom’s sudden death are strange. The out of ordinary occurrences before and after her passing has compounded my grief and pain. I can’t stop thinking about it all. She’s on my mind constantly. I am baffled by her absence as if I thought I’d have her beside me forever. She was 60 years old. Far too young to die. She was tough, kind, fun, exuberant.

My beautiful mother Susan Jean Power at 18 years old

She went through a hip replacement surgery ten years ago and felt like a new person and “…ready for the next fifty years.” of her life -I remember her saying. Then when she was 55, she overcame throat cancer. She persevered through Chemotherapy. She lost a ton of weight and most of her voice in the process. Removing the tumor during surgery damaged her voice box. This bothered her -she had an unfiltered gift of gab and a way with words throughout her life. She now had to learn to quiet her voice but at least it wasn’t lost forever.

My Mom at 25 years old with her fraternal twins

My mom and grandfather were close. When my grandmother Sandra died, my mom took over the care of her dad Charlie. She moved him in with us right before her throat cancer diagnosis.

He had a dog named Connie and Mom had a dog named Tiffy. The small dogs got along great for the many years they had them. Both of their dogs died weeks apart from each-other. Connie died first; of old age and Tiffy was put to sleep after breaking her neck weeks before my mom passed.

The day mom died was the worst day of my life and it couldn’t get any worse. Until night fell and I was proven wrong. My two brothers and my sister were all standing on the deck of my sister’s house with my grandfather. We got to the house about 4:00 pm – just missing the coroner leaving with my beloved mothers body headed for autopsy. After hours of reminiscing, crying and laughing, we called it a night and at 9:00 pm (five hours of standing around on said deck) we started giving hugs and goodbyes.

I was standing at my twin brothers side watching him lean down talking closely with our grandfather. Before I could hug him one last time, the sound of wood crackling filled my ears and within a blink of an eye, I was on the ground. I screamed in pain, my left hip was under my grandfathers body and both of my legs were under panels of wood and a very large BBQ that fell ten feet down with us. The deck collapsed. I wiggled myself out of the rubble cutting my bare legs in the process.

I looked around and saw everyone was disoriented but conscious. Then I saw my grandfather lying lifeless next to me. I knew he was gone. I froze, in complete shock. My brother reacted quickly, he instructed my sister to hold up my grandfathers head while he performed CPR. He got him breathing before the paramedics arrived (many of whom were at this address earlier in the day tending to my mother). We all went to the Guelph hospital for our somewhat minor injuries. My grandfather was taken to Hamilton hospital.

The Deck Collapsed before the ambulance arrived
Cuts, scars and bone bruises from Deck Collapse accident

My sister broke one of her ribs while my hips and legs were full of cuts and bruises but no fractures or breaks thankfully. We rejoiced in this odd occurrence at the hospital in such a fragile state. We high fived my brother for reviving our grandfather. It was a strange day. We went home and tried to sleep with our battered bodies and broken hearts. We woke up to find out horrible news. Our Pa landed on his head when he fell. At 80 years old, he suffered a catastrophic brain bleed from the impact that it would be unlikely even for a 20 year old to overcome. He also suffered organ damage from the impact of the fall and had ruptured the base of his spine at his neck when he landed. He wouldn’t be pulling through this. No-one could. He would be vegetable. Everything about Charlie that was Charlie would no longer be, even if his body survived miraculously -his brain wouldn’t stop bleeding. A week later, we were at his bedside saying goodbye. He was going with Mom now.

My Grandfather Charlie Gratto

I got a tiny bit of comfort knowing that my grandfather was meant to go with Mom and they are together with my grandmother now but the whole sequence of events will unnerve me for a long time to come. I wonder if they had a pact before this life to leave together. I wonder if Mom brought the deck down knowing we’d all be okay but Pa would land on his head and go with her. I wonder a lot of things.

Rest in Paradise
Susan Jean Power March 8th, 1961 – September 3rd, 2021
Charles Keith Gratto March 23rd 1941 – September 9th, 2021

Music Monday: Old Time Rock and Roll, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Music City, Music Monday, Seventies

In honor of World Music Day, I’m posting my all time favorite song: Old Time Rock and Roll. Originally released in 1978, the song was featured in the 1983 movie Risky Business starring Tom Cruise who gave an iconic coffee table dance clad in a white dress shirt.

Vivid memories are rolling in of my joker sister Suzy busting out a broom stick as her dance partner when this song started playing on the radio. What can I say, its our goofy sister song. Four decades after it’s release with no signs that I’ll EVER get sick of hearing it.

Lyrics

Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock and roll

Don’t try to take me to a disco
You’ll never even get me out on the floor
In ten minutes I’ll be late for the door
I like that old time rock and roll
EverybodyOld time rock and roll
That kinda music just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and roll, Drew Abbott!

Won’t go to hear ’em play a tango
I’d rather hear some blues or funky old soul
There’s only one sure way to get me to go
Start playin’ old time rock and rollCall me a relic, call me what you will
Say I’m old fashioned, say I’m over the hill
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock and roll

Still like that old time rock and roll
That kinda music just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and roll

Old time rock and roll
Baby, just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and rollEverybody come on
Old time rock and roll
Baby, just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and roll

Old time rock and roll
It just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and roll
It’s not like the old time rock and roll

Alright Alright Alright, just one more

Source: Musixmatch

3 Early Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Lover

Memphis Novel, NPD, Relationships
Narcissistic Abuse skull

The early days of a new relationship is usually filled with joy, butterflies and adventures. With all that fun, it’s easy to get carried away with someone who makes you the center of their world quickly. Let’s not throw all caution out the window though -the first date or two is the best time to lay out boundaries with your potential future significant other. You are in charge of your happiness and sanity after-all.

Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding.

According to phychcentral.com, Narcissistic Personality Disorder effects nearly 6% of the population and narcissist abuse effects over 158 Million Americans annually. Don’t let yourself be a statistic! Know the signs and educate yourself with the three early warning signs of narcissistic abuse below.

1. Love Bombing

Love bombing is the practice of showering a person with excessive affection and attention in order to gain control or significantly influence their behavior. The love bomber’s attention might feel good, but the motive is all about manipulation.

Multiple texts or calls throughout the day and early proclamations of love are warning signs that you’re being love bombed -possibly by a person with NPD. Affection, flattery, gifts and praise in generous amounts that scream to good to be true is a sure sign that you might dealing with a narcissist.

2. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a means to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity via their memory, judgement or perceptions. Gaslighting is used by narcissists to sow seeds of doubt in their victims so they question their reality. The results can be catastrophic to a person’s self esteem and confidence leading to second guessing yourself, apologizing often and an overall feeling that everything you do is wrong.

If you find your date tells you that you remembered something wrong more than once or repeatedly disagrees with your opinions, that’s not normal behavior; its a sign a narcissistic abuse. Cut ties now.

3. Triangulation

Triangulation is “a psychological threesome that you didn’t consent to..” according to medium.com. Triangulation is when a toxic or manipulative person, often a person with strong narcissistic traits, brings a third person into their relationship in order to remain in control. There will be limited or no communication between the two triangulated individuals except through the manipulator. It may appear in different forms, but all are about divide and conquer, or playing people against each other.

For example say, things have going well in your new relationship and you are invited to meet his friends or family. You make introductions but something is off. Your gut is telling you that maybe you’re not welcome or the friends or family members aren’t as warm as you’d hoped for. Trust your gut! If any of his friends or family members give you sneers or frowns upon first meeting -he’s already started his smear campaign against you!

Fold and move on, before you get in too deep.

Trust me.

Much love,

Holly May.

Music Monday: Stand by Your Man, Tammy Wynette

Memphis Novel, Music Monday
Tammy Wynette country music stars womanhood album from the 1960s

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a song for Music Monday – I’ve decided to only post these on the last Monday of the month going forward. Life gets busy and I’m also curating content on topics of importance to readers of Memphis; music, domestic violence and alcoholism, among others. The songs posted previously are ones mentioned in my novel and so is this one.

This is the track that Memphis reluctantly sings to her husband Johnny during a singing competition at the beginning of the novel. It seems like a love song -a tune of unwavering devotion. But I’ve always found it to be a sad song advising to consider that “..he’s just a man” and to “forgive him” because he’s “..doing things that you don’t understand.” A ballad for married woman to stand by your man even if he cheats because he’s just a man and well, he just can’t help himself. My thoughts on this song really drove the creation of the singing competition scene.

Tammy Wynette was the original co-writer of this classic tune. My grandmother played this when I was a kid and it stuck with me for years somehow bringing out Deja Vu years later when I heard it on the radio and Shazam-ed it. Then and there it became apart of my novel -before I even began the first draft. “Stand by Your Man” has been redone by the band formerly known as “The Dixie Chicks”, now simply known as “The Chicks”. The Chicks remake is a contrasting upbeat version of the original and I highly recommend you listen to it.

Lyrics

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man.
You’ll have bad times
And he’ll have good times,
Doin’ things that you don’t understand
But if you love him you’ll forgive him,
Even though he’s hard to understand
And if you love him oh be proud of him,
‘Cause after all he’s just a man
Stand by your man,
Give him two arms to cling to,
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely
Stand by your man,
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
Stand by your man,
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Source: LyricFind
Released: 1969
Genre: Country

Music Monday: One of the Nights, The Eagles

Memphis Novel, Music Monday, Seventies
The Eagles band of five guys from the 1970s

This is another song featured within my novel Memphis. No spoilers here -I’ll just say it’s in the book and leave it at that. This came out in 1977 the year my novel takes place in and years before my birth. My father is a guitarist so my childhood home always had classic rock roaring through the house. Enjoy.

Lyrics

One of these nights, one of these crazy old nights
We’re gonna find out, pretty mama, what turns on your lights
The full moon is calling, the fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers and moans
You got your demons, you got your desires
Well, I got a few of my own Oh, someone to be kind to in between the dark and the light
Oh, coming right behind you, swear I’m gonna find you, one of these nights

One of these dreams, one of these lost and lonely dreams, now
We’re gonna find one, mm, one that really screams
I’ve been searching for the daughter of the devil himself
I’ve been searching for an angel in white
I’ve been waiting for a woman who’s a little of both
And I can feel her but she’s nowhere in sight

Oh, loneliness will blind you in between the wrong…

Source: LyricFind

Music Monday: Dreams, Fleetwood Mac

Music Monday, Seventies
Fleetwood Mac band from the 1970s

This week’s Music Monday is all about “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Memphis idolizes Stevie Nicks and challenges her abusive husband early on in the story to sing this very song. I’m a huge fan of this legendary band and especially Stevie Nicks herself. This song is one of their mainstream hit songs and one of my personal favorites.

Lyrics

Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well, who am I to keep you down
It’s only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully
To the sound of your lonelinessLike a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost
And what you had
And what you lostThunder only happens when it’s rainin’
Players only love you when they’re playin’
Say women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
You’ll knowNow here I go again
I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams
And have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of lonelinessLike a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost
And what you had
Ooh, what you lostThunder only happens when it’s rainin’
Players only love you when they’re playin’
Women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
Oh, thunder only happens when it’s rainin’
Players only love you when they’re playin’
Say women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
You’ll know
You will know
Oh, you’ll know

Source: LyricFind | Songwriters: Stephanie Nicks | Dreams lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Book Review: Never let you go by Chevy Stevens

Book Review

This is a first Chevy Stevens read for me and it won’t be my last. I found her writing original and loved the different points of view and switches from past to present entailed in the story. WARNING: Spoilers throughout!

If you haven’t read it, here’s the 411 from www.goodreads.com

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought? 

My Favorite Character
I like the villain in the story. Andrew Nash is without a doubt, a very damaged person not to mention an abusive husband but really just madly in love and eager to be apart of his kids life. Maybe prison did change him for the better, but we will never know because (sigh) he gets caught in the crossfire trying to protect the very people he drove away with his own violent temper.

Setting
I look forward to a rich setting and ‘Never Let you go’ delivers for the most part. Many scenes describe the rainy weather reminiscent of beautiful British Columbia -where Chevy herself lives. The majority of the book takes place in Lions Lake and Dogwood Bay which are fictitious places as outlined in an Author’s Note at the beginning of the novel. All other places such as Vancouver Island are real.

The Ending
I have to say I knew all along it had to be either Marcus or Jared -they were both missing a few screws as far as I’m concerned. Marcus; no-ones that perfect and Jared; the scene of him coming out of the backyard to relieve himself, set alarms off inside my head. Wish there was more of bang or a ‘scratching my head’ type of moment but the adrenaline of anticipation I felt leading up to this semi-predicable ending still made it worth my read.

In a Nutshell
I couldn’t put the book down and read it cover to cover within a week. Before you comment; “that’s a long stretch for a book read (yea, I know we are in the midst of a global pandemic quarantine and have all the time in the world…), but I’m homeschooling my daughters as a single parent and working full time from home -desperately salvaging ad campaign cancellations as well….but I’ll save this rant for my Twitter feed.

Have you read this or another book of Chevy Stevens? If so, which one do you recommend should be my next read?

Much love,

Holly May.

3 Ways Covid-19 is Great for our Creativity

Memphis Novel, Parenting

It’s been some time since I wrote my first blog post here back in November 2019. I’ve been busy; between my full time job, moonlighting as a writer (second draft is complete) and parenting my two princesses, it’s been hard to find time for anything else. Until recently.

On March 11th, Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. That was on a Wednesday. By Monday of the following week, my workplace ordered us all to pack up our computers and work from home until further notice to help slow the spread of this deadly respiratory virus. A wave of emotions ran through me; worry, fear, anxiety and a tiny bit of relief during this highly stressful time. The bright side of this situation was that I could get a rest period of sorts.

With this quarantine order, I would get a few weeks to work on my own schedule; to not have to worry about packing three lunches each night after cooking dinner or obsessing over how my hair looked, no need to apply makeup every morning either, I could bask in my natural beauty and let my skin breath! Coordinating my business attire would also go out the window. I always left this task for the morning of, even though I knew it would be better to do it the night before but I had to pack all those lunches and needed a minute to decompress before bedtime.

Don’t forget dropping my two daughters off at two different schools every morning and then commuting to my office to find a parking space and fetch my lunch, laptop and purse through the parking garage was yet another task I was happy to dismiss from my new routine. All these things out the window -at least for the time being has got me thinking -how have I been able to write the second draft of my book “Memphis” effortlessly without taking time away from my full time job? I’ve compiled a list below explaining how my mind has gotten clearer while my priorities are still being met.

Here’s 3 ways Covid-19 is Great for our Creativity

  1. Boredom breeds Introspection. With global stay at home orders or strict lockdowns in place across the world, we have time on our hands we didn’t have before -allowing us some introspection.

  2. Time. We simply have more time to explore our passions -subconsciously releasing our creative juices. With more time and bricks and mortar shops closed, I have been partaking in online shopping -my newest purchase? A Keyboard Piano and a Bluetooth microphone for me and my youngest daughter to learn to play -my eldest just wants to sing.

  3. Less disruption. Sure having two kids home with me constantly can bring more disruption but I’m lucky that they are well behaved (most of the time), at an age where their self sufficient and have each other to play with. If I was in an office setting -I’d have catch ups with colleagues around the office. And if it was typical work from home day -before all this happened, I’d have to stop whatever I was doing and pick up the girls from school. I don’t have to go anywhere nowadays.

Creativity is a Wild Mind and a Disciplined Eye

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Nice to Meet you! My First Post.

Book Excerpt, Book Review, Holly Dolly, Memphis Novel, Music Monday, Parenting, Seventies, Womens Issues

Hi there, I’m so happy to write my first blog post for my brand new author website! I think this is the best opportunity to lay the groundwork for what types (genres) of posts you can expect from me on here. This platform serves mostly to educate and promote my third child -my novel “Memphis”, HOWEVER it will be a secondary writing outlet for me to discuss women’s issues that I care about deeply.

Not just the sad stuff, but some RAD stuff as well! Expect posts on women’s issues, parenting, single motherhood, following your dreams and the power of visualization and intent. Finally, in my true style and fashion, expect some pretty sweet posts about the 70’s and 80’s era’s including flashbacks along with mentions of my favorite band ever -Fleetwood Mac.

So yea, it will be all over the place in terms of topics but if you like what you’re reading so far, you’ll love my book “Memphis” that includes all of the above. Please comment and offer feedback of any sort as I’m just starting out and value your opinion and individual requests.

Much love,

Holly May.