A Heaping Helping of Gratitude

A Heaping Helping of Gratitude

2013 marked the publication of my first book The Road to Kidneyville:  A Journey Through Diabetes, Dialysis, and Transplant, first in the Kindle format, then shortly afterward in paperback, and–by the very end of the year–as an audiobook.  My intention to have another book out by the one-year anniversary of any of those events has not materialized, but other goals have.  This blog/website is one of those.  And the primary goal of the memoir itself, that of helping other people, has officially been confirmed as a Work in Progress!

If you’ve read Kidneyville, you may recall the first page in which I supply an email address and invite reader feedback.  The email address was a new account set up especially for this purpose.  Items in the Inbox were so few and far between (and almost always junk mail) that I’d fallen out of the habit of checking it very often.  So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when a personal message appeared there a few weeks ago.  An excerpt follows.

Greetings Mrs. Crain – 
I purchased  an audible version of your book  yesterday, and could not put it down since downloading it.  I am filled with tears, but they are all tears of JOY!  Joy, because your book has brought me hope, support, and guidance. 
You see, this past weekend my husband of only three weeks was hospitalized with congestive heart failure after complaining about shortness of breath.  His blood work showed that his kidney was damaged and  he was at stage 5 due to diabetes. We were told this means dialysis. He was released from the hospital this past Monday, and we were directed to visit a dialysis clinic the following day to get some education on what all is involved (talk about no time to process what is about to  happen to our lives). After that visit, I came home feeling helpless, and not sure how I would support him through this, or what the future would be like for us.
I immediately started researching on what to expect with dialysis and the option of kidney transplant (since that was mention on the clinic tour), and came across your book. The title seemed to capture what I wanted to know, but it was your story that gave me a renewed hope and optimism about our future, and changed my outlook on living life with a diseased kidney. 
So when  you asked God why did Larry die? Well the answer was clear to me……So that He can use YOU to help others live with hope, through the guidance, resources, and positive outlook in dealing with kidney failure that you provided in your book through Larry’s story.  Had your book ended with a happily ever after ending, I would have just said, “Oh well, the story is about Larry surviving all life’s challenges and he was always a fighter”. It was his death that caused you to interview others, and provide real life examples that I, and many other readers can connect with. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! I think your book needs to be in every endocrinologist office, dialysis center, and kidney transplant library. 
May God continue to bless you as you help others through your husband’s story.  (-June C.)”
To say that the message from Mrs. C. was gratifying is an understatement.  Her encouragement means so much, and not just because of my own personal goals.  You see, one of the primary character traits belonging to my late husband Larry was to be a Helper.  I can imagine him smiling about this email, and assuring June that he would be praying for her and her husband, just as I did.
So many thanks, again, to Kendall Wills Sterling for editing, to Jennifer Martinez for the cover art, to Greg Perry for publishing, and to Jayne Perry for reading the audio version.  Thanks to June C. for writing her email.  I wish each of them–and YOU, dear reader–a Happy New Year ahead, and the opportunity to be a Helper in your own way.  It does the heart good!
“American Story” Book Review

“American Story” Book Review

Although my thirst for books is fairly unquenchable, the years have seen a definite alteration in the format.  What began in infancy as strictly a page-turning habit (Thank You, Mother and Daddy!) graduated later to CDs and then Kindle versions and now even audio files that fit easily onto my cell phone and read to me from the comfort of my shirt pocket as I wash dishes in the kitchen, or (more likely) crochet an afghan while in my rocking chair.  My book addiction can be fed at practically any place or time now.  And since we’re coming up on Thanksgiving, I’ll mention again how absolutely grateful I am for public libraries!

One of the most recent audiobooks I checked out was by a TV journalist named Bob Dotson.  Titled American Story:  A Lifetime Search For Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.   There weren’t many plot twists or big mysteries, but this book was fascinating.  Mr. Dotson–a native of Missouri, and a graduate of KU–has made a career of traveling around and interviewing folks, then broadcasting their true tales on his TV segments on NBC.  Being a bigger reader than I am a TV watcher, I haven’t seen those shows, but now I kinda wish I had.  This guy can really tell a story, and he can condense down the essence of a person as well as Campbell’s does soup.  Bob doesn’t bother with the sensationalist, expose type garbage that seems to clog the airtime of so many features.  Instead, he chooses to shine his spotlight on Real Folks.  Decent, quiet-living people who just happen to be special in some way.

This book is a collection of many of those stories, written from a selection of those interviews he conducted over the years.  My library offered the audiobook as an MP3 file, and it was read by Bob Dotson himself, meaning his own particular inflections and impressions come through all the truer.  And while there are many books I like, this is one I feel comfortable recommending to almost everyone.  It will give you a warm fuzzy feeling, and a renewed faith in people, or as Bob himself put it:  “A geography of hope.”

Well done, Bob Dotson.  Well done.

Book to Read:  “A Higher Call”

Book to Read: “A Higher Call”

Years of experience teach us to keep indexes:  usually alphabetical lists of things for future reference.  Telephone and address books; business cards of good plumbers, electricians, carpenters; contact information for people we can call on for help when we truly need it.

Likewise, if you’re an avid reader, you generally know who, among your friends and relatives, to ask for ideas about what to read next. My family has several of these.  A few years ago I discovered that my Uncle David’s taste in books is somewhat similar to my own, so now when we visit (usually by phone, from across the country), I always ask what he’s been reading lately. When I saw him at New Years, this was his answer:  A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander.  A true story, centered around the World War II experiences of two pilots–one American, one German–this book engaged my sympathies , enhanced my education, and held my interest from beginning to end.  It also inspires me to learn more about the era, and about those who lived through it.

If you’d like to see more, here’s the website of the author:   http://www.valorstudios.com/a-higher-call-book.htm

Please note, this is not a sponsored plug; I’m not receiving any compensation if you click the link or buy this book or any others from the site.  Your local library might have it, or numerous other sources.  It’s just a book I appreciated, have already passed to someone else, and felt it worth a mention.

What’s your latest good read?

Cover Up?

Cover Up?

I confess:  I have an addiction.  No need to ask if it was caused by Nature or Nurture; the answer would be “both”.  Yes, like my parents and siblings, I am severely and constantly in dire need of BOOKS!  During a short-but-sweet weekend visit with my parents, we talked (as always) about what we’ve each been reading lately.  And in addition to the titles and subjects and plots evolved a comparative discussion of dust covers, also called dust jackets or book jackets.

Apparently the earlier forms of the paper sleeves we see wrapped around today’s hardbound books began primarily as a form of protection for the cloth bindings of books around 1830. They’ve since evolved into eye-catching art forms, designed to attract the buyer as much (or more) than to protect the covering of the book itself.  The front may show elaborate artwork or an appealing photo; the back can display an author’s portrait or a blurb of favorable reviews; the inside flaps often feature a synopsis of just enough of the contents to get us interested, plus perhaps a few facts regarding the writer.

But once the book is your own and you have it safely in the comfort of your home . . . then what?  If you’re like my dad (or me), you remove the dust jacket and set it carefully aside to preserve its crisp edges and unmarred beauty until you’ve finished reading the book, only restoring the jacket to the cover in time to place it protectively on a shelf for future reference.  My sister, however, keeps the paper cover on the tome she’s reading, to prevent scuffs or splotches on the book itself.  Collectors often pay substantially more for volumes with the dust covers intact, especially for those in the best condition.

So, it boils down to personal preference.  How about you?  What have you been reading lately?  And do you keep it under wraps? Leave us a comment!