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Finding Ruth: A Daughter’s Quest to Discover Her Mother’s Past by Cynthia Hamilton
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Genre – Biography, Memoir, Fictionalized biography
Page Count – 255 Pages
Cover Designer – Six Penny Graphics
As fiercely independent Ruth struggles to stay self-reliant at the age of 86, each day brings her closer to an event that will alter her life forever. While her author daughter shifts through Ruth’s possessions prior to her move into a skilled nursing facility, she discovers a previously unseen photo from 1949 and realizes how little she knows of her mother’s life.
As Alzheimer’s continues to warp Ruth’s once sharp mind, she can no longer shed any light on the past. Yearning to know who her mother was as a person in her own right, the author painstakingly reconstructs Ruth’s life from photos, letters, public records and firsthand memories.
What emerges is a portrait of a bright, beautiful woman who is propelled through decades of broken promises and heartache, bouncing from one ill-fated relationship to the next, but always staying strong, always surviving. Through a timeline going back sixty years, the author gleans a much better understanding of the woman she had known only as Mom.
~ AMAZON ~
Though I was always an ardent reader, I was convinced I couldn’t string sentences together if my life depended on it. Fortunately for me, when I was looking for something creative I could do from bed—if my mystery illness progressed to that point—I decided to try my hand at it. No pressure, no expectations. I didn’t tell anyone what I was up to. I just wanted to see if I could string sentences together and tell an interesting story.
I remembered a quote by Hemingway, “Write about what you know.” With this mandate, I chose the time spent living with my husband in the French Quarter of New Orleans as the backdrop for my story. I typed out my first two paragraphs on my forty-third birthday. I finished that book on my next birthday, and started my second the same day. I now consider those my “practice books”.
As my still-nameless illness progressed, I continued running the family business and continued to write. Nine years after my symptoms began, I finally received a correct diagnosis: Lyme disease, and more specifically, late-stage Lyme, because it had been allowed to progress untreated for so long.
Though the pain was almost unendurable, I clung to my writing like a life preserver. It allowed me to crawl up inside my head, out of my body, giving me brief respites from the vast array of pains.
Though I would never wish this disease on anyone, I can honestly say I am grateful for the path my life took, for it gave me the gift of writing. I now have nine published books, all of which have special significance for me. I write general fiction, mysteries and some nonfiction.
Once Upon a Lyme: The Tale of Two Journeys, is the detailed account of the path my mystery illness led me down as I sought help from over two-dozen doctors, and the gift of writing that was the unexpected upside of being so hopeless ill.
Finding Ruth was inspired by a previously unseen photograph of my mother taken when she was nineteen. I found it as I was going through her things prior to her move into a skilled nursing hospital. That gorgeous photograph of her looking so happy and full of promise made me realize how little I knew about her life before I came along. Because Alzheimer’s has taken away all her memories, I painstakingly reconstructed her life from public records, thousands of photographs, and what my brother, sister and I could remember. The message in the tribute to my mom is Ask while you have the chance.
As of this writing, I have just completed the fourth book in the Madeline Dawkins mystery series. I’m still in love with writing and I still squeal with joy to think that I’ve written eleven books and self-published nine of them. If there is a message in this, it’s Never discount what you are capable of achieving.