RACHELE BAKER: I FOUND MY MOTHER’S JOURNAL TWENTY YEARS AFTER HER DEATH
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Rachele Baker’s emotion were put on one place at her book Eighteen Months To Live. She wrote a memoir about her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. How tough is to remember once again all those moments and to combine them into a novel? Let’s hear from the author herself. I must warn you that the following lines are extremely touching.
– What is your book Eighteen Months To Live about?
– Eighteen Months To Live is the real life story of my mother, Midge Rylander, in her final months of life after being diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the lung from prior exposure to asbestos. After her diagnosis, my mother decided to keep a daily journal to document her experiences so that her experiences could help other people. Eighteen Months To Live is the transcription of my mother’s handwritten journal as well as letters that she wrote to me during that time.
– How did you decide to publish your mother’s journal?
– I found my mother’s journal twenty years after her death in a box of memorabilia that I kept stored in the garage. When I read my mother’s journal for the second time, I realized that she wanted her journal published so that her experiences could help other people including cancer victims, their doctors, and their families.
She wrote in the first page of her journal: “I want to present a historical commentary here, not just for myself but for doctors and others who might profit from my observations and reportings. The gist will be recording physical and emotional feelings, actions, and reactions.”
– What was the biggest challenge during your writing process?
– Transcribing my mother’s journal was a very emotional experience for me. It made the last months of my mother’s life and everything she experienced fresh and real and very painful. But I diligently kept transcribing until I had transcribed everything that she wrote. Then I wrote the heartfelt prologue, epilogue, and narration.
– Tell us more about your mother?
– When I was growing up, we lived in a large house in the country in Vermont. My mother worked full-time as a legal secretary. In addition, she tended our enormous vegetable garden and canned and froze fresh vegetables from our garden to use in the winter months. She cooked all our meals from scratch and made homemade bread and other goodies. She never complained or acted tired. She just made it all happen.
Accepting the physical limitations that she experienced as a result of the cancer invading her body was extremely difficult for my mother. However, because she was unable to do all the things that she felt she should do, she finally slowed down enough to take some time for herself. Here is another quote from my mother in Eighteen Months To Live:
“You want to know what I do to keep busy. I try to enjoy every day. I am able to spend time exploring and investigating all the wonders of nature on my almost daily walks. There is so much to see, hear, and smell, all of which I have passed by all these years in a rush to get somewhere to do something rather than to enjoy what is here. I’m 58 years old and I started to work at age eleven. That’s a long time. For whatever time I have to live, I intend to enjoy myself. I read. I enjoy my home, my yard, and my cats. I enjoy my leisure. Some days my energy level is extremely low and some days my threshold of pain is lower than normal. When I have to go on a preventive medication schedule, everything slows down as well as the pain lessening. I’ve spent a lot of time roaming around the stores. I could never just roam around before.
I’m so thankful to have time to rest, relax, and enjoy my life. I stay busy when I feel like it and take it easy when I don’t. There are days when it is really hard to get out of bed but I make myself get up, get dressed, put on makeup, and do my hair even if I then just collapse on the couch for the most part of the day. My body is very important to me and at long last I am listening to it, having ignored it for too many years. I really pushed myself hard for so long. No more pushing.”
– How much time did it take you to finish the book and publish it?
– It took me about six months.
– Do you plan another book?
– Yes. I am a veterinarian with over thirteen years of experience. I am in the process of writing a series of short books about medical problems in dogs and cats entitled My Virtual Veterinarian. The first book in the series will be published soon and will be entitled Allergies In Dogs: How Can You Stop The Scratching And Chewing?
For more information about Rachele Baker check out her web page
Take a look at her book:
Eighteen Months To Live