Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book dedication: To my Mom, a.k.a. "Miss Winnie"

       It's fitting and proper that I dedicate my first book -- November Ever After --  to my mother. And that’s because Winnie F. Greenlee is most the determined person I have ever known.
       The words "I can't" were never in her vocabulary.
       Mom worked for 47 years in civil service and retired early to take care of my father after he retired. When Dad passed away, my mother sold the house that I helped to build as a teenager (I was a carpenter’s helper). She had a new home built and was 74 at the time.
       As things turned out, it was only beginning of what she wanted to accomplish. Mom decided to go back to school and a few years later, she earned a college degree in business management at the age of 80. Mom, though, wasn’t content with finishing school. She devoted a few years to teaching as a substitute in the public school system in St. John’s County, Florida...
       In the meantime, she always made the time to do her own yard work every Wednesday. It’s not like she had to, she wanted to. Aside from mowing grass and trimming where needed, she always found time to work in her garden that was heavily populated with plants, flowers and shrubs.
       I had every intention of not telling Mom about the book being dedicated to her until it was finished. I wanted it to be a surprise.
       All that went out the window when I talked with one of the nurses who tended to Mom after she moved to an assisted living facility. The nurse, whose name I can’t remember, grew up in West Virginia and graduated from Marshall. Here’s how that conversation went:
       “Craig, your mom tells me that you went to Marshall in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Were you there at the time of the plane crash?”
       “Sure was,” I answered. “Fact is, I’m writing a book about it.”
       “Hey, that’s great. Keep me posted on your progress.”
…….I didn’t think anything more about that conversation until I talked to Mom the next day.
       “I heard that you’re writing a book about the time you were at Marshall,” she said. “The nurse told me all about it.”
       Shocked that she knew, I realized that my plans to surprise her were shot: “Well, yeah, I’m working on it,” I said. “So I might as well go ahead and tell you now that I’m dedicating the book to you.”
       Mom seemed to be caught off guard with that bit of news. But I could tell she was interested in what I might say in a dedication. But she never pressed me for more information on the subject.
       It was my sincere hope that I would be able to present Mom with a copy of November Ever After. I had every reason to believe that she would still be here in 2011. Things didn’t turn out that way. Mom passed away in March of last year, three months shy of her 90th birthday.
       The example set by my mother, known to many as “Miss Winnie” is always present before me. When I sit down in front of my computer to write, all I have to do is look at her college degree which is mounted on the wall in front of me. At those times when I don’t feel like writing, I look at that framed degree and realize that at age 80, Mom had more than enough gumption, drive and determination to see things through to the very end. So the question I find myself asking myself is this: If she was able to do what she did at 80 years old, then what’s my problem?


  1. I love what you wrote about your wonderful mother. Her photo is so revealing, I can tell just by looking at her face that I would have loved her. You are a lucky man to have had her around for so many years. Cheers

  2. Craig I think it's lovely. Definitely brought tears to my eyes - though I was smiling as I read it - I hope that makes sense.