The Author’s Life at Leisure Care
Even though imagination doesn’t check itself at the door of our communities, it isn’t often that we can boast a resident publishing a book. So imagine our surprise and delight when two of our residents each published books within a month of one another last fall at Fairwinds – Desert Point in Arizona. Residents Jane Kimball and Bill Hartman both launched their respective books, Safe Corners and E.R.’s Year, with book signings amid the acclaim and excitement of 200 of their fellow community members.
Safe Corners is Jane’s first novel, fictionalizing the account of the loss of a child and the painful passage back to a meaningful life by the child’s mother. “The book is an outgrowth of my professional career as a psychotherapist, in which I spent many years listening to the struggles of my patients as they wrestled with the various losses in their lives—loss of a job, of a marriage, of health, of beauty, of status, of a dream, of a loved one,” Jane explains.
“And, the longer I sat with them as they struggled, the more awe and admiration I felt for how valiantly they worked to get through and beyond the pain. Those who faced the most difficult struggle were parents who had lost a child. For, while no form of loss is insignificant to the sufferer, the loss of a child is the most traumatic because the intensity of the parent-child relationship exceeds all others. Parents are supposed to die before their children, not after them,” she continues, “and when the reverse occurs, the grief consuming the parents is frequently mixed with conscious or unconscious feelings of guilt and failure. After all, they’re supposed to be their children’s caretakers.”
With this, the story of Christina was born, the fictional protagonist in Safe Corners who, after her loss, struggles with her faith and faces a challenge in her marriage, while learning who can console her, who cannot, and what she has to do to gain strength for the next phase of her life. It’s through her friendship with two unique women who’ve had losses of their own, that Christina moves through the three most difficult years of her life into a new time of creative possibilities.
Bill Hartman, our second author, has always enjoyed writing.
“When I retired, I discovered that writing a novel where it’s permissible to use your imagination is far more fun than writing technical articles where such proclivities are frowned upon,” Bill explains.
“So I solicited professional advice from my daughter, and we co-authored a terrorism novel entitled Convergence: Three Worlds, One Long Afternoon. While it’s a novel, it’s based upon one of my prior work assignments. Even after this book was published,” Bill continues, “I found it mandatory to continue writing to keep my mind active. Much earlier, I’d started deciphering the extensive diary that my father had kept every day during 1942. I resurrected this, and again with my daughter’s help, began writing, incorporating some of my own recollections and the actual history of the first year of WWII to supplement his diary entries. Five revisions later, my second book, E.R.’s Year, was born, a story that recounts the history of WWII and its effect on small communities in the Midwestern United States.”
Both authors find Fairwinds – Desert Point an extremely accommodating community in which to collect and compose thoughts.
In Bill’s words, “It’s a pleasure living and writing at Fairwinds. There’s a calming solitude when you desire it, but when you’re seeking inspiration you can always go down to the lobby to find someone to talk to, or a fun activity to engage in.”
For Jane, living at Fairwinds has provided her the valuable time necessary to write her novel.
“A door opened for me when my husband Paul and I moved here in February 2011,” she recalls.
“The weekly housekeeping services and three-meal dining services freed me from those daily chores, which previously consumed a lot of my time and distracted me from the writing. I can sit at my desk and without guilt write, write, and write while also finding time to take bridge lessons, participate in book clubs, and enjoy an all-around fulfilling life.”
Based on the achievements of Jane and Bill, Fairwinds has now implemented a memoir writing workshop. Led by an accomplished author, all residents are afforded an opportunity to compose, document, and eventually publish their own legacies.