105 Ways to Give a Book

Getting Personal

When I talked to members of Mid-Atlantic chapter of SCBWI on Wednesday about blogging, I weighed in on the need to have a blog be personal, but not too personal. People want to read about the writer or illustrator or blogger as a real person. Someone who worries about her plants or lets his hamster scamper on his drawing. Those little views into your world are gold, without exploiting your privacy or your family’s privacy.

And today I’m breaking with that entirely, because I’ve known you all for a while and because I feel the need to share and because what’s going on in my personal life may affect my blogging presence and because maybe I’ll get some advice that will help me with this step.

This week my mother had a small stroke. Small in that she is completely in control of her physical self and her thoughts and mostly in control of her speech. In fact, in talking to her over the phone (my brother is there with her), I had a more optimistic picture of her than was probably accurate. She is talking well, with occasional struggles to get out the right word. What I didn’t realize until yesterday is that she can’t read or write at all, because she can’t make that translation back to her brain. She also mentioned that she went to brush her teeth, and couldn’t figure out the toothpaste. She knew what to do, but couldn’t signal her hands to comply. She’s laughing about it and staying upbeat, which is good. She’s also on track for a therapy program to help her build new pathways in her brain to replace the broken ones.

But this is more serious than I originally thought, and I’m going to be making some back-and-forth trips to Virginia Beach to help out. We may also be making some hard decisions about where she is going to stay — maybe even about where she is going to live. They will be particularly difficult given the economy and the housing market and the connections that we have with two cities, two families, two hundred miles apart.

So I’m not sure what I’ll be doing here online. Things may not change much, as I may have just as much free time to dash off a post here and there. I still plan on going to BEA and the Book Blogger Convention at the end of May. I hope to see some of you there. I still plan on doing the 48 Hour Book Challenge over the June 4th weekend. I have any number of kid, scouts, and family obligations that I plan to meet. But things could be different for a while.

Personally, I’m feeling mostly... okay. I have a kind of peaceful sense that we will all just do what we need to do as we figure out what that is. I guess I didn’t really need to say anything here, but I wanted to tell you because it felt like I was holding back something otherwise. In a way, it comes back to the presentation that I gave at the SCBWI session. I talked about not looking at your blog as something you need to do for promotional purposes, but seeing it as an opportunity to share of yourself, and in doing so building relationships and connecting with people. So here I am, sharing, and I’m glad to have you there to listen. Thanks.

33 comments:

Tricia said...

Oh Pam, I'm sorry to hear this. I will keep your and your family in my prayers. I know how difficult the long-distance family thing is. I've made more trips to NY in the last year than the last five before it. The back and forth is tough. I hope you're able to come to a solution that works for everyone.

We'll still be here, waiting, listening, and thinking of you.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I wasn't blogging when my father was dying. I had just started a new job though and I can use that for my example.

My parents and I were 1500 miles apart, so it meant a lot of air travel. It also meant the new roommate I had taken on (he was homeless at the time) was going to be watching my animals whenever I needed to hop on a plane.

At my job, we are allowed to go negative on our time off and I did. Have not crawled out of that hole yet and I've been there 5 years now.

Everything in my life went into hiatus. It was time limited - we knew it would be about 1 year and it was. That meant there was more need to be there a lot but also it was a temporary situation.

I think the same applies for you. There is more need to help now and usually that will slack off as she becomes self-sufficient again. But it might take over your life temporarily.

Life happens. Sometimes we have to let go of things we like and sometimes we just need to put them on hold.

Wishing the best for you, your mother and your family.

Charlotte said...

Aw gee, Pam, I hope it all goes well. I am sure that you will make it work somehow, but I hope that things fall into place easily. I'll be thinking of you!

Tasha said...

Pam,

Huge virtual hugs combined with awe at your ability to deal so well with so much.

Thank you for the glimpse into your personal life. It has been a treat getting to know you over the years.

Hugs,
Tasha

Jennifer Schultz said...

Pam, this is totally understandable. I am sorry to hear that your mother is not well. Best wishes to you and yours.

Terry Doherty said...

*hugs* from Cville ... I am in a similar predicament with my dad, who is just 20 miles away but that doesn't make the personal toll any easier!

Maybe we can share some ideas over a "lemonade" at BEA!

adrienne said...

I'm glad you shared. I'm thinking good thoughts for you and your family. Your mom must be quite a person, managing to stay so positive.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Hugs to you, Pamela, and wishing your mother the best.

jama said...

Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way, Pam. Do what you need to do, and know that we're all here to support you in whatever way we can. ((hugs))

Kori said...

Team Lusignan loves you and sends giant hugs your way. That is the kind of sappy, emotional outburst that you can continue to expect from Team Lusignan no matter how we hear about the stuff going on in your life, whether via blog, email, phone or otherwise. We're just that kind of team, and we're on your team, too, so get ready for the hugs. Take care, friend.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

My thoughts are with you and your family!

pyrotechny said...

So sorry to hear about your Mom, Pam. It is a stressful time, so give yourself a break, k? Glad that she seems to have a good perspective on it. Praying for you, honey.

Hilary Hyland said...

Pam, I was one of the attendees at the recent SCBWI meeting regarding blogging. Sometimes "getting personal" can help you on your journey.

Three years ago, my husband had a stroke (in his 50s) It did not effect his speech, but he was partially paralyzed. Thankfully, he has made a full recovery. Each stroke (mini or not) is different. I did not know anything about strokes before, but I do know your mother must work hard & get the therapy she needs. The brain is an amazing organ & I'm hoping she'll make a 100% recovery.

You may want to get more info from the Am.Stroke Assn. I recommend reading STROKE OF INSIGHT by Jill Bolte Taylor -- an informative read about her own stroke & recovery.

Best wishes & hugs to you & your mother!

Kate T said...

I actually work for a home health care companion company- we help a lot of our clients (mostly elderly but by no means are all of our clients of a certain age) stay as independent as possible. I don't know how financially feasible that is (my company is expensive but the upshot is that they screen their employees carefully), but there are options that can give you peace of mind for the times you can't be there. There are also state agencies that can provide medical care, and there are lots of retirement communities with all sorts of levels of care. The one lady I work with now is recovering from a stroke, and despite having Alzheimer's she's made a lot of progress. Just know that your family has lots and lots of options even if it doesn't feel like it now. I love that your mom is being so optimistic, a great attitude goes such a long way in a recovery process!

morninglight mama said...

Best to your mom, you, and your family, Pam.

Anonymous said...

Pam, I'm so sorry to hear that your mom is having this trouble. It will be an adjustment for all of you, especially your mom as she learns to deal with all the symptoms. Please let us know if there is anything that any of us can do to help - seriously. We are ready and willing. Take care,

Lisa Wampler Cooper

Hannah said...

My condolences on your mother; glad the news isn't worse.

You said: I talked about not looking at your blog as something you need to do for promotional purposes, but seeing it as an opportunity to share of yourself, and in doing so building relationships and connecting with people.

That is something I have been grappling with lately, and I think it's the answer to "why do I blog?" I'd been feeling a little discouraged (and still am sometimes) about the ebb and flow of feedback -- but when I see it as means of connection and not of power, it's more easily satisfying.

Best wishes.

beth said...

I'm sorry your mom was ill, and I hope she makes a complete recovery. Sending you lots of sympathy and good thoughts as you and she map out a path back to health.

Playing by the book said...

Thinking of you and all your family.

Jan von Harz said...

Pam,

First, I am sorry to hear about your mother and hope that her recovery is speedy and complete. My sister had a stroke several years ago at 58, and her life was difficult, but she has recovered for the most part.

Second, I can totally empathize with the dilemmas your brother and you now face about what is best for your mom and your family.

My father who is now 97 fell three summers ago and broke his hip, his once independent life was basically taken from him and my sister and I have been dealing with his care, and finances ever since. It is unfortunately, a cycle of life all children must experience when their parents age, but nothing makes this time easy when hard decision must be made.

My thoughts and prayer are with you. Remember to take care of yourself as you go about taking care of mom!

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Thinking of you and your family, Pam. I'm sure you'll find a way, and hope it turns out to be a smooth one. Will be waiting for your posts as always whenever they come. All best.

Melissa said...

Oh, I hope everything will work out for the best. I can imagine how tough it would be. I'll definitely keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Abby said...

Pam, I'm so sorry that that happened. I'm sending you big virtual hugs and I'll keep your family in my thoughts. *HUG*

gail said...

Pam, We've been having what I call eldercare issues for a few years now. I knew these things were going to be coming up but still was not psychologically or emotionally prepared for how all consuming it can become. It sounds as if it's still early days for your mother as far as her recovery is concerned, and I hope she makes a good one. Good luck, and I hope you will be able to get back to your normal life soon or else create a new, workable normal.

EM said...

Oh, Pam, my heart goes out to you. You do what you need to do to find the right answers for your mom.

Kelly Fineman said...

Many hugs to you and yours, and prayers and thoughts as well. The caretaker role seems to come around to all of us eventually; I am sorry to hear that it is your turn, though. I'm glad your mom's in good spirits, which can be a HUGE help to her recovery.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Pam,

Family ALWAYS comes first. It must be difficult not having your mother living nearby. It sounds like your mother has a good attitude about her problem. I hope all goes well with her therapy.

There have been times when I've had to do less blogging because of things going on in my life too.

Jess Stork said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, however I'm glad it was a small stroke and not something larger. Your tips at SCBWI were very useful, and the links are great. But sorry to hear about the stress of the "sandwich generation" bearing down on you. Hopefully it will at least be an interesting sandwich, peanut butter and pickles maybe?

Anonymous said...

Prayers from Va. Beach!

My father has had a series of strokes, very scary but improved (tho' never back to 100%)with physical therapy each time. It's tough seeing our parents getting older. Try to find something to enjoy & relax on your visits here ...hint hint, the beach is great, try First Landing State Park, few tourists, & lovely walks.
Many blessings,
Lisa

Robin Brande said...

Good luck, Pam! What a total drag for your mother, you, your brother, etc. Love to hear she has such a positive attitude about it, but wow--very hard.

We'll all be thinking of you! Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your mom.

Grace said...

Pam,
Thanks for sharing.
Take care.

Hugs,
Liz Hall (from the SCBWI event/Grace's human mum) and Gracie

Michelle said...

Pam, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. Please know I'm thinking of your family and if you need anything I'm just a call away!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Pam, I hope your mom is doing well. I'm saying prayers for you all. I have not been blogging much myself, but I am trying to keep up with you. I can't do the 48 hour challenge this year but I will be putting some time into commenting. It's going to be fun! Have a great time in NYC, BTW!!