Today while driving along in the car, we were listening to the radio when an old song came on. It was Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly.” James had not known that the song was written [words by Norman Gimbel and the music by Charles Fox] for Lori Leiberman. The song recounted the remarkable experience Leiberman had in seeing Don McLean perform for the first time. Poor Lori was the first to record the song in 1971 but it went nowhere until Roberta Flack did her melodic version in 1973. I wonder how many people know that the song was written about Don McLean and mistakenly think it was actually Roberta Flack that was so moved by him?
Then I started wondering, how many times people have had an experience so moving that they just had to get it down in either song, poem or written word to share with the world? I remembered that Neil Diamond was inspired to write the song “Heartlight” after seeing the film E.T. in 1982. Carly Simon wrote “You’re So Vein” about her experience (albeit bad) with some unknown former boyfriend that she to this day will not reveal [although the world seems pretty certain it was Warren Beatty who most likely “thinks this song is about him!”]
Then I realized; am I not doing that now myself? Isn’t my novel “Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story)” being penned because I too was moved to do so by my remarkable mother? Had I not been so moved by her strength, courage, endurance and unconditional love, that I feel it necessary to share her story with the world? My goal is to join the ranks of the great story tellers of our time and hopefully capture the hearts of all who read my moving and inspirational story of triumph.
The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of my [hopefully] soon to be published book:
Copyright 2011 by Donald Philip Massetti
All rights reserved. No part of this book or blog may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a novel based on the true-life events of Gertrude Abate.
Aside from immediate family, names have been changed to protect the privacy and the rights of all other individuals.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Trudy’s family was on edge as they helplessly waited for the Hospice nurse to finish checking on her. They were anxiously pacing the floor and comforting one another when the middle-aged woman finally emerged through the master bedroom door.
“I think she’s a little more comfortable now,” said the nurse.
Trudy’s husband explained to her, that his wife had closed her eyes to sleep earlier that morning and had not opened them, nor has she responded to anyone since. That was over eleven hours ago.
“When will she wake up?” he inquired almost too frightened to hear the answer.
“I’m afraid,” said the woman “That what I have to tell you isn’t very good news. Your wife most likely is not going to wake up anymore. From what you have all told me regarding the way she was thrashing about earlier, it leads me to believe that she’s reached the point where she’ll be leaving you soon. You see, that thrashing is not conscience movement. I believe that at this point, they are caught between here and the afterlife causing them to become anxious. Some people even try to get out of bed and stand up. It’s as if they know they have to go and think it’s something they actually have to do physically.”
“Oh my God! What exactly do you mean by soon? How soon are we talking about?” asked the shocked man.
“Well I have seen so much of this before – and I regret to tell you that it usually means within twenty-four hours. I truly am so very sorry sir.”
The family of grown children looked at each other in disbelief. They had been expecting this, just not at this time. Not so soon. Earlier that week Trudy was wide-awake and the doctor had given her six to nine months.
“Her health will fail at times,” explained the specialist, “but she’ll recover and feel better. This will probably happen several times before the disease actually does take her.”
That was only last Monday. Today was Sunday, a mere six days later!
Through the master bedroom door, on a hospital bed that was brought in by Hospice, laid Trudy. Her hair, which she had always kept so meticulously styled, had been brushed straight back to keep it off of her face. Over her mouth was the clear plastic mask that fed her oxygen as her frail body gasped for the uneven breathes it took. She had turned seventy-eight years old just a month ago and at that time there was so much to celebrate. She had overcome an incredible life hurdle in a way that could only be described as a miracle. However overcoming life hurdles was what Trudy did best. Never before has the old phrase “life is unfair” been so true. Yet Trudy had a way of facing each new challenge head-on, with conviction, determination, humor and love. Always love.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thursday, June 11, 1925
It was mid afternoon and the ladies were just getting up from the table. “It was a wonderful tea Lily” said one of the women, “are you sure we can’t stay and give you a hand?”
“Oh no that’s fine” Lily answered, nervously touching her hand to her raven head. “I’ll have this cleared in no time at all and supper on the stove before my kiddies get home from school.”
“Are you sure?” You don’t want to do too much dear; you know what I mean, in your condition and all.”
Lily looked down at her big round belly, “Oh nonsense, stop treating my like I’m going to break.”
“Well,” chimed in a buxom woman with a touch of gray in her hair and a touch of mischief in her voice, “by the looks of you, you just might at that! And if I may say so – at any minute now!”
“Sarah! Enough of that talk. Now be off with the lot of you or my family’s dinner will be late!” laughed Lily as she waved her hands to playfully shoo the ladies out the door.
The women giggled as they exited through the kitchen door. Lily gave a quick look in on her three year old, Eunice. She was still sleeping quite contently. “Yes” Lily thought to herself, “I can have supper up before the baby wakes from her afternoon nap.” As she hummed along to Lee Morse’s latest hit, “Yes Sir That’s My Baby,” a tune she felt most appropriate at this moment in her very pregnant life, Lily started the business of clearing off the table.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Bobby and Buddy were taking a lazy walk home from school toting their books over their shoulder in leather straps. Although they were brothers only two years apart, appearance wise, they were truly a study in contrast. Bobby, the elder of the boys, sported a mop of wiry dark auburn hair, warm brown eyes and a sprinkle of freckles across his nose and cheeks. Buddy on the other hand, had soft curly blonde hair, a rosy complexion and sparkling blue eyes. Bobby was teasing Buddy in that way which older brothers are so well versed. “Buddy and Ellie sittin’ in a tree”
“Stop!” Buddy exclaimed, but Bobby just continued to antagonize his sibling adding, “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”
“I said quit it!” Buddy shouted giving his older brother a shove as the boy pulled open the back door to their home. The pair tumbled through the door and into the kitchen. As they did, the two became motionless with shock as they found their mother lying helpless on the floor.
As she heard the boys come in, Lily called out, “Hurry go and get the doctor! Tell him your mother’s time is here!”
The boys just stood there, still frozen with fear.
“Run!… Now!… For Goodness sake go!” Lily yelled and with the speed of an Olympic sprinter Bobby was out the door. As Buddy turned to join him, Lily cried out, “Not you Buddy. You stay here and get the large pot out from under the sink. Fill it with water and get it boiling on the stove… Now!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Robert Wilson was a very dapper man. His platinum blond hair, which had earned him the nickname of “Whitey,” was neatly combed and his tie was still perfectly knotted under his starched collar even though the business day had ended and it was a long and warm train ride home to Belleville from New York City’s financial district. As he stepped off the train he took a deep breath. It was good to be home. His cornflower blue eyes scanned the platform for his two sons who were always there to greet him at the station. They loved to take the walk home with their dad talking about the events of the day, however this day; they were nowhere to be found. Feeling that something was awry, Robert began to dash home at a swift pace. As he threw open the front door, Robert could hear the cries of a baby. Instinctively, he ran into the bedroom only to find it empty. He followed the cries heading for the kitchen calling out, “Lily… Lily dear!”
As he entered through the kitchen door he saw the doctor turn his way. “Congratulations Mister Wilson, you have a beautiful new baby girl.”
The doctor handed the baby to him. As she entered the tender care of her father’s loving arms, she immediately stopped crying and seemed to become both peaceful and contented.
“Well” said Robert with a bright smile, “it looks as though we have quite an impatient little one on our hands.” Then he squat down to kiss his wife, who was still on the floor, she looked up at him and smiled.
“Gertrude… I thought we might name her Gertrude,” the tired women whispered. “I know your mother was hoping, if it were a girl, we would name the baby Helen, after her, but I got the name from the society page in the newspaper. I thought being named after society ladies might bring her luck. Helen can be her middle name.”
Robert kissed his new daughter gently still beaming with surprise and delight.
“Gertrude it is then. Hello little Gertie dear,” he cooed, “So tell me my little one, is your dramatic entrance into this world any indication of things to come?”
* * * * * * * * * * *
I hope that you’re enjoying the journey into my novel and taking a small glimps into my mother’s life. I don’t think it would be giving anything away to say that you are sure to find Roberts Wilson’s words about his daughter, Trudy’s dramatic birth almost eerily prophetic, as you read through the pages of “Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story).”
Until next time,