Sorcerers’ Dynasty by Stephen Perkins Book Review by The Page Turner

SORCERERS' DYNASTY by [Perkins, Stephen]

  • Print Length: 344 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B076C1FVHV

 

 

 

 

 

My Rating ♥♥♥♥♥

 

My Review: 

This was the fourth book by this author and I believe this was my favorite thus far. As in most of Perkins’ books, things are rarely as they seem. Yet the way it was written allowed for a seamless flow. The characters all had a purpose and were determined to reach their prescribed solution. What was fun, was the twists and turns in the plot. Once they occurred it made sense but sometimes as the author sometimes does so well, they seem to take a life of their own. People are not as they seem and things are never as they appear.

The characters were interesting to follow. One example is the President of the United States, She was quite unique and never ceased to amaze me.  Dan Sheraton was another character that had me eating out of the palm of his hand. He was hell-bent on finding out what was actually going on behind the icy walls of the Arctic.  He was chasing down leads all over the world and finding what had eluded most for centuries. There are dangers all around and Dan was willing to face them for the truth.  He was even willing to face up to the largest corporation in the world, Serenity.

This was an entertaining read that included many aspects from the news today. I enjoyed how these moments in history were given a new life.  This author is completely in a level of his own. He surpasses what people expect and gives us something truly individual. This book is a one of a kind read.  You will appreciate finding Stephen Perkins and his creative take on this world.

Where to find Sorcerers’ Dynasty: 

This work of fiction can be found on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

 

 

 

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All the October News! An update or two on what has been happening!

Last time I spent any time sharing what was happening in my life, I shared that I had been sick.  After 5 weeks of medication, meditation, prayers, positive affirmations, essential oils, and sleep, I can say I am better. I got up early yesterday morning for a very special event in South Africa, then I left the house and attended a book signing. My very first book signing.  I am thrilled with my day. But I will do this in chronological order so as to stay focused.

Book Release

October 10, 2017, was the launch for When a Pachyderm Comes to Visit. The Kindle version has bFronteen published and is now available on Amazon in KindleUnlimited or sale for only $.99 until November 7th.

The paperback is available at Lulu.com by clicking here. 

Signed copies can be purchased at a discount price by emailing a request. Include the name you want personalized and the number of copies.  The personalized books will be available for shipment on November 15th.

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This is book two in the Dolcey series and the story is one of magic, bullies, dreams, goals, and fears.  When Dolcey the Fairy comes to visit, she brings hope and a new perspective to Michael.  I hope you will embrace Dolcey and Michael.

Here is an excerpt:

Lying in the dark bedroom, Michael heard a noise, clunk, followed by a thud. Was that a Shuffle? Over by the window, he heard that sound, it wasn’t the usual wind on the window noise. Swish.

There he heard it again. He rolled over and looked at the long window with the streetlight shining through.

What’s that? What’s that shape? He pulled his covers over his head and lay very still. When he heard another odd clunk he peeked over the top of the blanket.

Squinting at the window he noticed what looked like a snake climbing into his room. Michael’s heart was pounding in his chest. He felt his knees begin to clack together.

It can’t be a snake, no one ever had a snake climb in their window. That window was shut, how could it get in here?

“Ga ga go away” the whisper was harsh and did not even sound like his voice. Clearing his throat he sat up straighter in his bed and said a little louder. “Go away!”

He heard a faint voice, “So, you’re awake then?” That was when he heard a giggle.

International Book Launch

Johannesburg, South Africa. Skoobs Theatre of Books allowed an indie author to ply her wares through Skype while sitting on their champagne bar.  There was no place I would rather be at 4 AM Eastern Standard Time, than on that champagne bar meeting children and adults via Skype.

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I wore my tiara and even brought my fox ears with me in case I had to do a quick change.  I was asked to read from a favorite book as a child so I chose The Gull That Lost the Sea.  A sweet story that I still love to this day.  Both Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? and When a Pachyderm Comes to Visit were featured and are currently on sale at Skoobs in the paperback version.

While sharing this launch with children, parents and other authors in South Africa, we held a contest and Adiba was the winner.  She was able to choose the child’s name for my next book which is to be titled,  Is there an Owl in the house?

Karen’s Book Barn Trick or Treat Event

Saturday was my very first book signing. I was excited to be seated with Jen Selinsky at Karen’s Book Barn in La Grange, Kentucky during the La Grange Trick or Treat event.  La Grange is 80 miles from my home and after getting up at 1:30 to do the book launch, I might have started to get tired.  That exhaustion passed as quickly as it came when I arrived in La Grange. The entire town showed up dressed up and having a wonderful time. Many parents, grandparents, and children strolled into the bookstore and took a look four of my books. I was happy to have both of the Halloween anthologies, along with The Path of the Child and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? all available in paperback. I was thrilled with the turnout and with the response from the customers.  I happily signed for adults and children and a serious young reader that wanted them all. Don’t even get me started on the train that runs straight down Main Street.  What a treat that was!

Special Thanks

There you have it, my October in a nutshell. The main thing I want to convey is that I appreciate everyone for your lovely thoughts, prayers, love, and kindness.  I have the best people in my life, both online and off. I have chosen my friends and family well and have been blessed by those that have chosen to befriend me.  My heart is full.

November Thoughts

Bring on November and a valid attempt at NanoWriMo.  Today I decided to give it a go, win or lose, it is better than not trying at all.  If you have not decided to start, then think it over, what’s to lose?  If you are participating then let me know so we can be writing buddies.  November is going to be another great month.

 

 

 

The Great Quake by Henry Fountain a Page Turner Book Review

The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet

  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (August 8, 2017)
  • Publication Date: August 8, 2017
  • Sold by: Random House LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Rating ♥♥♥♥♥

My Review: 

When I saw this cover, I knew I wanted to read more about the great quake in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 27, 1964. The earthquake that I can remember seeing in my grandparent’s copies of Time and Life magazine with the images of houses lifted in the air while roads sunk several feet below right down the street, and absolutely no houses standing between.

The subtitle is How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding Of The Planet, and this book certainly fulfilled that promise. I have always been fascinated by geology. My grandfather took us on rock digs from the time we could walk. So this made me want to understand exactly what is going on deep within the earth.

The book covers in depth the personality and the work of the main researcher of this 9.0 earthquake, George Plafker. Also covered in great detail are the people that lived and died during this quake. The narrative, personal accounts,  and documents study the makeup of the area, the demographics, and the personalities of these brave Alaskans. I read this book slowly absorbing each detail and there are so many important details that are uncovered in this book. Henry Fountain brings the instant of the quake to life for the reader with eyewitness accounts, memories, and photos.

I read this book slowly absorbing each detail and there are so many important details that are uncovered in this book. Henry Fountain brings the instant of the quake to life for the reader with endearing, sad, and powerful eyewitness accounts, memories, and photos.

The geological makeup of this area is so well explained that after hearing the term plate tectonics for years, I finally actually understand how they work, what is going on, and how it affects us living on this active and dynamic planet.

I found this book through Blogging for books and this is why I love reading hardbacks, I will keep this forever and read it many more times. This review is my honest opinion and I thank Blogging for Books and Crown, the Publishers, for allowing me to have this copy for review.

Not stodgy and boring and not a textbook read at all, but a personal glimpse into the terror of this powerful natural disaster as well as the excitement of new discoveries. The excitement of realizing that a little snail-like creature holds so many answers. This book is like being on a dig alongside one of the premier geologists.

If you like history and knowing how things really work, then pick this up and you will enjoy it as much as I did. I have had a reading hangover from it since I finished it a few days ago. I wanted to read another fact-filled and an exciting book like this to transition me back into fiction.

I have a niece that is a geologist and I am sending her this book. I believe she will be as enthused about it as I am.

This Science-based non Fiction book is available on Amazon / Barnes and Noble /and Books a Million in Hardback and e-book format.

A Request to Rate the Books You Read

I am borrowing this from author Paul Russell Parker as he said it so much better than I!

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Hello, readers and fans! Remember, you don’t have to purchase my books from Amazon to leave a rating or review. If you were gifted any one of my books, downloaded them for free, bought them, found them in a Little Library, found them at a rest area, at a mall, some other random place, etc… You can still leave a rating. I encourage and ask that you do so, regardless of how you received any copies. If you really enjoyed my books, let me know. My main concern is how well you liked my stories, not how much I can make.

Ratings and reviews really help. It helps other readers know that they are getting a good read, and it also helps me, the Author. When I see how much someone enjoyed one of my books, it reminds me why I’m doing this in the first place. I want you to have a new literary universe that you can lose yourself in after you had a long, frustrating, or busy day.

So, go ahead and leave a rating or review at AmazonGoodreadsBarnes & NobleBooks A Million, etc. You don’t have to post much more than two or three words if you don’t want to. Even just a star rating will do. After that, you can follow me on my many social media platforms.  Thanks, and I appreciate the time you spent reading my books and reading this post.

 

Neespaugot by John Mugglebee

 

Excerpt from Neespaugot by John Mugglebee

Della gave the two boys another looking-over. One broad and muscular, the other short and wiry. One Slavic, the other Mediterranean. Brothers. Interesting.

“All right, you two. You’ve come here to know something, so here’s my deal. I’ll answer your questions if you promise to leave me in peace for good. Do you agree?”

“Yeah, sure, whatevah,” said Ezra.

“Good. Now, you, the little guy, you go first.”

Zeke nodded. “How old are you, ma’am?”

“Seventy-four. How about you?”

“Eleven.”

“Anything else?”

“How come people say you’re a commie?”

“Because labels are simpler than the truth, young man. I was a newspaper editorialist for many years, defending those without a voice against those with more than their fair share. In particular, I wrote against federal anti-immigration laws aimed at Southern and Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, East Asians and Asia Indians. In short, anybody who wasn’t a WASP. My enemies labeled me an agitator, a Bolshevik—that’s a communist with an attitude. None of it was true, but that’s the thing about smear tactics. In this country, when it comes to race, religion, gender and politics, the label always sticks. I hope you’ll never have to learn that hard lesson, Zeke. Now, I’ll give you one more question, and then we’ll let Mr. M.I.T. have a go.”

The boy vacillated. His brother started to speak for him, but Della tapped her cane on the floor to silence him. After turning it over in his mind, the smaller boy blurted proudly, “Do you know our ma?”

“You idiot,” said Ezra, groaning.

“Hush, you. No, Zeke, I don’t know your mother, not really. She was born at the end of the First World War, by which time I was no longer having anything to do with your grandmother. I moved to France shortly thereafter. Okay, Zeke, normally it’s your brother’s turn, but due to his rudeness, you can have another.”

“No way!” said Ezra.

“Says the boy who broke into my house. Proceed, Zeke.”

Zeke looked to Ezra for a clue but got shut out, so he was on his own to come up with a question.

“Oh, yeah. Are you a lesbian?”

“Do you even know what a lesbian is, Zeke?”

“Women kissing each other?”

“It’s an orientation, child, a sexual orientation. A woman feels a pull towards other women. But I have never felt a pull towards other women—or men, for that matter. The fact is that I have only ever known one passion for another human being in my entire life, and she happened to be a woman. Before meeting her, I had no interest in a relationship of any kind. Since her death twelve years ago, I have lived comfortably and gratefully alone. So, my answer to your question is no, I’m not a lesbian. I’m not a label of any sort. I’m, well, nothing at all.”

“How did your friend die?”

“Sorry, Zeke. You’re moving off the subject. Your turn, M.I.T.,” she said, turning a critical eye on Ezra.

“Well, I don’t give a rat’s ass about ya dead girlfriend, that’s fah sure. My Ma’s a big fat liar, so I need you to put somethin’ straight for me. You got the Indian’s coin?”

The question, totally unexpected, hit Della sideways. “Who put you up to this?”

 

 

OF LOVE & LORE

By John Mugglebee

 

My novel Neespaugot tracks a colonial coin across the historical landscape of New England in order to trace an ancestral line of ethnically and racially diverse characters. One of the more frequent questions I’m asked is if my characters are based on real people. The simple answer is “yes, no and maybe.”

Countries, communities and families bond over lore, and my family was no different. I grew up hearing tales woven from our ancestry, colorful in a literal sense, stitched from Native American, African American, Scots-Irish, Chinese and Russian Jewish cloth. Very little of it was verifiable, but that meant nothing to a young boy in search of an identity. Mythology is not a statement of facts but a quest for hidden truths. The storytellers’ words were good enough for me, and all the storytellers were women. The men juggled two, sometimes three jobs at once and had little to say about anything, so it was up to the women in my family to dole out love and lore. It seemed only natural that those who carried life into the world should dispense its lessons.

My mom would have answered “yes” to the question of whether or not my characters are based on real people, and she would have backed it up with a small tintype portrait of a young Ching Archung standing on the Salem pier circa 1867, and by a picture of Bridget Griffin, Ching’s Irish wife. Mom left the tall tales of Native tribes and implausible births to Great-aunt Alice and Aunt Helen.

Aunt Helen, my mom’s older sister, lived four miles north of Boston, in Everett, a working class city of 40,000 predominantly African-American, Hispanic and Asian residents. Aunt Helen and my mom looked nothing alike. Mom was dark-skinned and sloe-eyed; Aunt Helen passed for white (their two brothers looked Chinese). The two sisters married outside their supposed racial demographic, Mom settling down in all-white Beverly, Massachusetts, with a second generation Russian Jew, and Aunt Helen wedding a black sheriff from Everett. Aunt Helen was a kind woman subject to bouts of hysteria. Once, I heard her screaming at a house plant. On another occasion, she assaulted a living room wall with a broom handle. But of the hundreds of boyhood visits I made to Everett, that was the extent of my first-hand experience with my aunt’s psychological withering. Aunt Helen told me the story of Lydia Freeman, an African-Native American woman who would form the basis for the eponymous character in Neespaugot. According to Aunt Helen, a middle-aged Black-Indian spinster went to work in the mid-1800s for a bachelor doctor of Scottish descent, either as his maid, gardener or midwife – Aunt Helen couldn’t make up her mind which one. Miss Freeman soon became pregnant in her 50s, and she and the doctor were married a decade before the Civil War.

Even to a kid, the yarn sounded hokey. I was prepared to accept some embellishments if they coated kernels of self-worth, but Aunt Helen’s claim was really out there. So, I took the matter to the two other dispensers of family lore, my mom and the family doyenne, Great-aunt Alice, whom we all lovingly called Aunty. Mom refused to demean her kooky sister in the eyes of a seven-year-old, instead choosing prevarication, neither confirming nor denying any aspect of the tale. “Ask your Aunty the next time you see her.”

Great-aunt Alice, an elderly woman of bark-brown skin and golden generosity, lived alone in Salem, in a small one-bedroom walkup near Salem Willows Park, a seaside grassland where the amusement rides were. We kids would fight over who got to sleep over at Aunty’s and get spoiled rotten the next day at the park. Aunty would walk us down Essex Street to the Common, passing by the witch houses and the House of Seven Gables and gazing across the bay to Marblehead where the woebegone Naumkeag tribe lived until small pox wiped them out in 1617. On one such walk, I asked Aunty what she thought of Aunt Helen’s tale of the doctor and midwife. She said she didn’t know how plausible the doctor bit was. “On the other hand,” she said, “my grandmother most definitely did conceive my father when she was 50.”

Years later, between the passing of my three storytellers and the writing of Neespaugot, I got ahold of a copy of our family’s genealogical tree. It dated back to 1794, beginning with Freeman, Lydia, who was married to George Sylvester Osborne with whom she had one child in 1846. The record validated Aunty and Aunt Helen’s assertion that Lydia Freeman gave birth to her one and only child at age 50, at a time when child mortality ran at 50%. As for the rest, the record remained mum. Was Osborne a doctor? Was Lydia Freeman an African-Native-American? Freeman sounded suspiciously like free man, a common and administratively lazy last name given to ex slaves, but it’s all conjecture.

As I perused the pre-20th-century fruit of my tree, I realized that most of the names were completely foreign to me. I had the impression that I was walking through a cemetery, staring at tombstones chiseled with appellations that used to apply to somebody who breathed and expired and sank into oblivion. I refused to accept that. Sometimes, it’s all you have to go on, a name, and it’s up to a storyteller to make something of nothing. Love and lore demand it.

Neespaugot: The Legend of the Indian's Coin

  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0974260797
  • Publisher: Brandt Street Press (May 20, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 20, 2017

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

My review: 

Reading an epic family storyline like Neespaugot brings so many emotions into play.  I loved so many of the family members. I loved Lydia and her Scottish Husband. I loved at least one person from each generation, many times more.  I cried for the pain inflicted on innocent people and I laughed just as often.

Powerful and fascinating men and women that carry out the vision of their ancestors are only the beginning.

Families with their strengths and weaknesses displayed actually allow for more intense feelings. Not everyone is all good or all bad and this book teaches that point through the relating of brother against brothers and sister against sister.

There are petty grievances and insurmountable odds in these families and it paints the history of the country and the world in the telling of the family dynamics.

Part history and part mystery there is something so compelling about these generations of people that kept me utterly entranced.

Without a doubt, this book is a testament to strong family histories, the good, bad, and the ugly.

You can find a copy here. It is certainly a great read. Amazon

A Long Time Coming by Bedelia Paulson: A Featured Fun Guest Post

A long time coming

My eyes were always fixed on the heart monitor. I dreaded the moment the blue line flowed straight and the continuous beep turning into one long siren signalling the end. Heavy rains spluttered against the window, making it impossible to see anything outside. The streetlights flickered unwaveringly, like an ever-present lighthouse, faithfully guiding traffic through the storm. I wondered what the world would be like, when I am all alone. He called my name, tugging at his oxygen mask.
“Take…off…please..”

“Only if it’s for a good reason,” I responded with a light kiss on his forehead while I removed it.
” …or else it’s going straight back on again.”

At first I thought it was the medication; that he was hallucinating. He spoke with a sense of urgency. “Janice, I had an … affair…when I … was in Johannesburg. I … have … a four year … old … son.”

I wriggled my hand free from his, my mind in turmoil. He was not dreaming.

“This can’t be happening,” I whispered incoherently while I tried to restrain myself. “Derrick, you’re hallucinating.”

He reached out to me, beckoning me to come close but I could see it in his eyes. He was fully aware of what he had just said. I ignored the gesture and moved away from him.

“Why are you telling me all this now, Derrick? Why now?”

“You … have to … fetch … him … no one … to take care of …him.”
“I don’t believe this! Where’s his whore of a mother? Why do I…?”

“She died…a…month… ago. Car…accident. He’s… with… grandmother.”

“So? She can look after him. See if I care.”

“She… can’t…she’s… in…wheelchair.”

I left his bedside for the first time, since he became hospitalised. I went home.

The north easterly wind rushed through the hospital’s entrance doors, as I stepped
outside. How could he, my husband of twenty five years, tell me something so devastatingly life-changing at a time when I was supposed to show my love and support? How did he expect me to keep sane? Sort out his mess while I was dying too. A slower death, with no morphine to ease my pain.

I rushed towards my car with the rain pelting down on me. No sign of the storm backing down.

His laptop was still on the couch where I had left it after rushing him to hospital. Faint trails of his aftershave lingered in the passage leading to our bedroom. I stopped in front of the gold-framed mirror on the wall. I was in my late forties, with a body and looks younger models ‘would kill for’, he used to say. Why then, did he stray? We had spoken about my not being able to bear children. He seemed okay. That was the impression he gave me.

Johannesburg seemed so different, except for the usual busyness of a Metropolitan city. Derrick often suggested we come here for holidays.

“I don’t like Jo’burg,” I used to say.

“What’s not to like?” he’d ask. I never answered.

“Where to, madam?” asked the taxi driver.

“Kensington … 46 Unicorn street.”

I kept fiddling with the piece of paper bearing a name and address. What do I say to this woman?
The taxi stopped outside a small, slightly rundown house.
How could he do this to me?

I opened the gate, its rusty hinges squeaked in protest. The front door was ajar.

“Hello…,” said the little boy, barely taller than the doorknob. “…my Nanna’s coming.”
“Marco! Marco! I told you not to open the door for…”

“Well look what the cat just dragged in!” She was staring at me, her one eye wide open, the other one … blinking. I knew only one person, many years ago who did that, when she was mad at someone. My long-time friend, Lynn Wagner. We were almost like sisters back then. She reversed her wheelchair, making way for me to enter. She was mad alright … at me.

I squeezed past her, avoiding her obvious glare of contempt. “I…I…need to sit…please.”
She spun the wheelchair around, swiping toys from the sofa with the back of her hand, straight into a red Lego toy box.

“Excuse the mess,” she exclaimed. “The ‘help’ only comes in twice a week.”

“Lynn … it’s okay … please …you don’t have to apologise…”

“… Oh, quit selling yourself short now, honey. This house is a far cry from what you’re used to. I feel uncomfortable around you.”

“Why are you in a wheelchair? And what’s with the head scarf?”

“Drop it, Janice! You didn’t come all the way here to enquire about my health. What do you want?”

Well! I never expected the red carpet treatment anyway but nothing … nothing could have prepared me for this.

“Lynn, please tell me the mother of this child is not who I think it is.”

“Work it out, honey! You’ve always been good at that. Figurin’ things out on your own. For the good of your own.”

“Where’s Charlotte? Where’s my daughter?”

“‘Aren’t we forgetting’ something Janice? Then allow me to refresh your memory. Charlotte ‘was’ yours, before you shoved her into my arms, one cold Saturday morning, at a filling station opposite Sandton City mall. Shall we go down memory lane?”

I cringed at her suggestion. Lynn was not one to mince her words. Resigned to my fate, with no energy to engage in a ram-battering session, I did the sensible thing. I allowed her to spill it all out. I had it coming.

“You’d landed a modelling contract in Britain,” she hissed, while staring at the photo above the fireplace. “She’d only ‘be in the way’, you said. She was three months old, Janice! Three bloody months! The child you promised me you’d come back for. Twenty seven years later, you have the nerve to rock up here and ask me, where’s ‘your’ daughter?”

“Okay! Okay!” I shouted, cupping my ears with my hands. “I probably deserved that. I’m sorry.”

“That doesn’t cut it, hon. You should lower your head in shame. Charlotte’s gone and this little boy here, is her son. Your husband’s son.”

Well! If I thought Derek’s revelation had left me staggering in the aftermath of an unexpected earthquake, this one left me like a fish wriggling and gasping for breath on a beach abandoned by the ocean, to construct the grand finale. A monstrous tsunami! Destined to leave chaos and destruction.

“How did you find out I was Derrick’s wife?”

“I asked him…straight out. National Geographic’s award winning photographer with the queen of the catwalk by his side? Paris…Rome…Milan. Never a night in one place. He couldn’t deny it.

“ … and Charlotte? Surely she must have known he was married?”

“Oh get of your moral high horse, Janice! Of course she knew. Haven’t we all? You should
know. You’ve been there. But … if it means anything, she didn’t know who YOU really were.”

I bit my lip, swallowed hard. “You never told her?”

“I had no reason to. You weren’t coming back. It was pointless letting her hold on to something that might never happen. I did what I thought was best for her. I changed our names, in case your conscience got the better of you and you come looking for us. Then I burned all correspondence you and I had. Charlotte lived and died knowing she had a mother. Me!”“You could’ve stopped them …”

“You could’ve stopped them …”

 

“ … and then what? Tell her the truth? That I wasn’t her real mother?”

“Please, Lynn. Try to understand. This isn’t….”

“Hey! Listen honey! This is NOT about you! Now I knew … deep down I damn well knew you might come back one day; mess up what Charlotte and I had. But your husband beat you to it. I had no choice. I just wanted him to go the hell away, so I told him. But it was too late. She was already pregnant.”

“I’m sorry,” I stammered, choking on the words as it suddenly dawned on me how this was affecting Lynn. Something I haven’t even thought about.

“Janice! You and I know first-hand, what it was like growing up without parents. Living from one wretched foster home to the other; longing for a mother we never knew. I was NOT going to put Charlotte through that. Now I raised her so you could pursue your dream. I would’ve done anything for you, coz’ you promised you were coming back for her … but you didn’t. You gave up your rightful place in her life. Janice. You … have only yourself to blame.”

I was clearly in a one-way street, heading in the wrong direction, colliding with everything I had so recklessly abandoned. Now there were casualties; people were hurt. Lynn was right. What I should be doing was to hide my face; cower in the sand and wait for the first stone to hit my head.

I nodded … with conviction.

“Derrick said she died in a car accident.”

“Yes. His visits became less frequent. He kept sending money and gifts for the boy. Charlotte wasn’t herself anymore. She thought he’d dumped her”.

“He’s dying. That’s the reason I’m here. He wants me to take care of the child … with your
permission, of course.”

Lynn shifted uncomfortably in the wheelchair, her eyes still fixed on the enlarged photo above the fireplace.

“I know,” she whispered. “We’d spoken about it. It’s … just … so damn hard …” She stopped midway through the sentence, her voice trembling as she tried to hold back the tears, but it streamed down her face. “First Charlotte … now Marco will be leaving too. I understand … I mean … just look at me. I can’t even take care of myself, let alone look after a toddler.”

“Come stay with me Lynn, let me make it up to you.”

“No! We’ll only confuse the boy. You’re gonna have to go it alone this time, honey. For yourself … for Charlotte. I’ll go pack Marco’s things.”

“May I see a picture of her?”

“In the dresser … ,” she replied, swinging her wheelchair around. “…over there…left drawer. There’s a photo album. I’ll be back in a while.”

And there I stood, back-tracking a period in my daughter’s life with every turn of the page, gently stroking each photo of which I should have been a part of. Baptism – Primary school – High school – Prom and finally … Graduation. She wore a cap and gown, sporting a broad smile, with Lynn posing proudly beside her. I kissed her photo, clutching it against my breast. And the walls of guilt collapsed under the pressure of tears streaming down my face. Dear God, what have I done?

“No use beating yourself up now, honey.”

Lynn was back, clutching two small suitcases on her lap, with Marco in tow. I closed the album, still snivelling as I wiped my face. “Sorry … I didn’t realise you were here. I’ll just put this back, then we can go.”

“Keep it! You’ll need it more than I do.” Her voice sounded gentle, almost like the Lynn I knew, back then.

“Thank you,” I whispered, sighing with relief. I had this sudden urge to hold the little boy in my arms. My very own grandson! Exposed too soon to the harsh realities of life, yet he had nothing to do with it.

I took his hand instead, squeezing it gently before I backed down, thinking how this might affect Lynn. “Well, big boy! How would you like to fly in a big aeroplane?”

“Really! Can my Nanna come too?”

I shot a quick glance at Lynn before answering, waiting for some indication that she was coming.

Truth be told, I needed her too. I was not sure whether I would cope. Marco was not used to me.

“Hurry up …” she said, “… before I change my mind.”

Sheer relief swept over me. I almost air-punched.

There was something in Derrick’s eyes I had never seen before when he saw Marco. He kept thanking me; saying how sorry he was; how much he loved me. We held each other, all three of us, unaware that Lynn had rolled out on her wheelchair, quietly.

I was exhausted and must have fallen asleep on the couch while Marco babbled on with his father. In the wee hours of the morning, the dreaded sound of the heart monitor awoke me and by the time the nurse had rushed in, the blue line flowed straight, followed by the siren. Derrick had passed away, with his arm still around a sleeping Marco.

I was hurting, in the core of my soul, for having lived in my own world, overlooking things that were important to him. There was the time when we were house-hunting. He’d go for homes with big gardens; a swimming pool and courtyard where he’d talk to himself; envisaging the perfect spot for a basketball net; a little swing in a corner; bright yellow and red spades and buckets with big plastic balls strewn around.

My reason for wanting a big house was totally different. I wanted my own home, shared with someone whom I knew would always take care of me. Someone I loved deeply. At the time, that was all that mattered. But deep down I knew, I was only fooling myself. My husband longed for us to have a child. I chose not to see this.

Lynn was waiting for us in the courtyard, when we got home. She had a ball in her hand,
contemplating a shot at the basketball net.

“He knew about me all along, Lynn. Why didn’t he say something?”

“I guess things were complicated at the time but he really wanted to make things right, you know. I’ll give him that much. After I told him who you were, he tried to end the relationship with Charlotte. She wouldn’t hear of it. She stormed out, threatening not to let him anywhere near Marco again.”

“So he didn’t get a chance … to tell her about me?”

“I think he just never got around to it. The driver of the truck she had collided with, said her car was on the wrong side of the road. She went straight for him … deliberately.”

“Now she’s gone, not knowing that I was her mother?”

“And what would you have said to her, Janice? That your career was more important, so you gave her up?”

“Lynn, I needed to hear her yelling at me; telling me what a lousy, rotten excuse for a mother I was. I just wanted to ask her to forgive me; tell her how sorry I was …”

“Well … if you ask me Janice, what’s done is done. There’s really nothing you can do other
than seizing this opportunity to make it up to her … with Marco.”

“You make it sound so easy, Lynn. Yet you devoted your life raising my child, while I ….”

“ … Fate handed you the relay baton, Janice. Whether you stay on track and finish the race, is entirely up to you. I don’t wanna have to go into much detail. So please … let’s not go there. I’ll just be opening up old wounds, which is the last thing I want feel like doing right now.”

Lynn refused to talk about her illness, let alone stay with us. She was her cheery old self
when I dropped her off at the airport.

“…better this way, honey,” she chirped. “…and don’t worry, I’ll call you.”

I tried calling her anyway, but her phone was always on voicemail.

The last message I received from her was that she had landed safely and that she was on her way home. Two months later, I received a message from a hospital in Johannesburg. My ‘sister’, Lynn, was being transferred to hospice. I didn’t even know she was in hospital.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Lynn from the moment I boarded the plane until it touched down at O R Tambo International Airport. The sun had distanced itself from the horizon, now speckled with migrant birds returning from afar. I felt like one.
As the taxi cruised along the highway, my eyes wandered intermittently across sleepy suburbs and shanty townships. Both had houses surrounded by stately trees and shrubs heavy with bursts of pink and white blossoms. I was home!

I stood next to her bed, watching her drifting in and out of sleep. She had been given a dose of morphine earlier. I was hesitant to wake her, unsure of what my reaction would be if she sees me. She was propped against pillows, her head shaven, her eyes sallow and tired.

“Honey, this is it!” Her voice was barely audible but she managed a little smile, moving her fingers as a sign for me to clutch her hand. “I’m off … to departure lounge … cancer’s taken over … not much they can do for me anymore.”

I started bawling in full view of everyone, and was promptly asked to wait in the visitor’s room or contain myself.

“You’re gonna have to pull yourself together now, honey,” she bantered. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

I laid beside her, snivelling while I hugged her frail body. We talked and giggled, like old times.

“Wanna know something, honey?” she whispered. “What doesn’t work for some, might turn out just fine, for others. Charlotte was the light of my life. I must thank … you.”

Lynn fell silent. She never made it to hospice.

I’ve had the not-so- pleasant task of explaining to Marco his involved parentage. Not an easy thing, but it had to be done. He filled a void in my life, which sometimes I have to ask myself, what have I done to deserve this unexpected gift? Not only has it been offered to me in a mysterious way, but it has also led me to find inner peace.
I told him everything, watching him closely, waiting for any signs of resentment. Not once did he interrupt me. He got up instead, went to his bedroom and stayed there for what seemed like a lifetime. I thought it best to leave him alone. I owed him that much.
The next morning, while I was preparing breakfast, he walked in and asked. “Janna, is it okay to call you ‘Grandma’? ”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I replied, ruffling his red curly hair before hugging him.

I have been given a second chance … to make things right.

I miss Derrick. A lot though but I am comforted by the fact that he had died peacefully, knowing that Marco was in good hands. Lynn and Charlotte were happy. That’s all that counts. Yes, there are regrets re-surfacing from time to time, when I wish I could have had my life all over; done things differently. Marco’s existence has made things tolerable. I cannot imagine life without him.

Now if I could only squeeze in one more photo, amongst all those who played a significant part in steering me back to finding myself. Marco … wearing his cap and gown, standing tall beside me, smiling like a Cheshire cat. Perfect!

END