Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dead Flowers for Hollywood

Do you have a childhood friend with whom you still connect? If so, you are fortunate. Many friendships come and go, and if you have maintained a relationship with a friend who has known the real you since youthful days, that is a blessing!

Amanda Sue Rose and I began a friendship in our southern California junior high, continuing through high school, and have never severed that bond. Graduating from high school in 1969, I moved to New York; however, in those forty-six years (how is that possible?) we have always stayed in touch. In the ancient days before email, we sent letters by snail mail, describing what was currently happening in our lives. We simply never lost that connection.

Amanda Sue’s experiences in life could easily be material for a movie on the Lifetime television channel. She is extremely trusting, and when people hear Amanda’s story, they always tell her, “I can’t believe all of this happened to one person!” or “You have to write a book!”

At our 40th southern California high school reunion that was held in Las Vegas, Amanda Sue and I allotted time to sit by the hotel pool and capture the details of her life story. I recorded and transcribed the recollections of her early life as the daughter of a man who enjoyed a long career as a cameraman in the Hollywood film industry and a stay-at-home mom who suffered a debilitating injury to her legs in an auto accident in her late teens.

The young Amanda Sue had all of the advantages that any girl could want. One of our close friends, Katrina, and I nicknamed Amanda “Hollywood” when we were teenagers. This nickname represented two origins:

1-With her father’s connections in the movie and television industry, she was exposed to many celebrities during her adolescence.

2-She had a certain flair. She knew how to wear subtle makeup that wasn’t overwhelming, but enhanced her perky features, giving her a far more glamorous appearance than we were able to muster during our awkward teen years.

Somehow she ended up being referred to as “Hollywood,” but didn’t even know this until we reminisced about that phase of our lives.

After the Las Vegas meeting, I continued to interview, record and transcribe Amanda Sue’s memories, and we finally developed a manuscript that reflected her story in her own words. I emailed the manuscript to her, and the experience of seeing one’s life spelled out in black and white with size 12, Times New Roman font, had an unexpected impact on her. She actually found it to be distressing to see the entire scope of her life replayed right before her eyes. You may not understand that until you read her story: four husbands represented four harrowing, dramatic experiences. Seeing it in print was like having to live through the trauma all over again. It was an unsettling rewind.

The project was placed on the back burner, with the knob in the “off” position until Amanda Sue felt emotionally ready to release it. That time is now. She has agreed to move forward with the book project, and the names and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of all parties involved.

Dead Flowers for Hollywood takes the reader through Amanda Sue’s younger days and then proceeds through the succession of disastrous marriages. There is a lesson to be learned from the astounding story that Amanda Sue shares. Hopefully, this memoir will help others learn to watch for red flags, pray about it, and get to really know their intended spouses before becoming financially, physically, emotionally and legally entangled via matrimony. Even under the best of circumstances, people can change and become someone you feel as though you never really knew. A special thank you to Amanda Sue Rose for sharing her story. It was my privilege to facilitate the publication of book.

Will Amanda Sue discard the negative effects of a series of catastrophic marriages and exchange wedding bands for the fifth time? You will have to read this tale of multiple weddings to find out!

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 Much love and blessings,

Mary Anne Benedetto


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

God Bless Those in Need of Care AND the Caregivers

My mom is amazing. She is eighty-eight years old and still going strong. Yes, she finds it necessary to walk cautiously due to a knee issue that could throw her to the ground at any moment; however, she is wise to be careful and make good use of her constant companion--the trusty cane.

I am thankful that she lives just a few minutes from us and that I have the flexibility to be there for her for medical appointments, shopping, and any other errands that she may need to accomplish. She is such a sweet, delightful person, and she deserves the best.

T. Allen Winn felt so strongly about his experience in overseeing the well-being of his elderly relatives, he wrote a book about it.

The Care Giver’s Son walks us through a journey of transitioning from only child, free spirit son to drafted participant in care giving. Winn discovers that grandparents and parents are not immortal creatures who will always be there as our protectors and CEO’s of all family matters.

He finds that his life, and that of his wife, take an unexpected detour that is packed with personal sacrifice and challenge when it becomes his responsibility to find a way to maintain employment and still be there for his parents’ and grandmother’s needs.

With a promise made to his terminally ill mother that he would never place his father or grandmother in a nursing home, he honorably complies and struggles with now being in charge, along with the assistance of his angelic wife, who supported his promise and endured her own lifestyle sacrifices.

Within ninety days, both parents passed away, leaving the Winns reeling with sadness, but still responsible for Granny. God’s plan was for Granny to soon join them, with all three passing away within an eleven month period.

Winn speaks for all caregivers when he says, “I had kept the promise. It appeared we were no longer caregivers. I’d give anything to have all of them back.”

This book shines the candid spotlight on a topic that most don’t even consider until it enters their world. Reading The Care Giver’s Son is an eye-opening reality check for everyone who is currently or will eventually go down this same road. I am convinced that there is a special street in heaven that rewards those who have known the roller coaster ride and selflessness affiliated with being a dedicated caregiver.

If you are in the position of caregiver and find yourself frustrated or losing patience, just remember this: Pray that someone will one day be patient and kind to YOU when you become that elderly individual who needs assistance.

God Bless the folks in need of care, as well as the caregivers!

All the best,
Mary Anne Benedetto

Certified Lifewriting Instructor and author of Eyelash, Never Say Perfect, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet’s Life Story in 7 Easy Steps