My book, Hugging This Rock came out yesterday. I dedicated it to Dorothy Chandler, my grandmother. I explain some of my reasons in the book. In short, she was full of ditties and poems and songs that just bubbled out of her all the time.
She died when I was a young lieutenant stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. I remember being on the phone with my folks asking if I should fly to Maine for the funeral. Somehow, groupthink took over and we agreed that I should stay in Alaska for all that important Air Force stuff I was doing. What could I possibly have been doing that was more important? Horrible misprioritization on my part.
Around that time, I was using an old Panasonic electric typewriter to write things down. Journal entries and quotes that I found in books that I read. Today, I remembered typing something about her, not long after she died. I looked around the house until I found the right binder. There it was on the front page. I dedicated that pile of typewritten chaos in the binder to her and nearly forgot that I wrote it.
Now that I’ve got some mileage, I’m able to see that Kurt Vonnegut was right: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” Words, intentions, thoughts, and memories have spooky power. Somehow in the back of my mind, my grandmother nudged me along for 25 years until she showed up on the dedication page of a real book.
I hope the poems in the book aren’t crappy. But that anxiety is overwhelmed by a massive feeling of relief. Gratitude that I didn’t run out of time.