Meet Connie Corcoran Wilson
Connie Corcoran Wilson has published 10 books since 2003. “Hellfire & Damnation” (www.HellfireandDamnationtheBook.com) came out in February, 2010. Her three volumes of true ghost stories of Route 66 (Ghostly Tales of Route 66, www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com) are out from Quixote and in E-book format from Quad City Press. Connie has been writing for pay since age 10 and taught writing at 6 IA/IL col.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Laughing Through Life is the book of funny essays and observations that critics have called “Erma-Bombeck-meets-David-Sedaris,” with hilarious results. You’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition of many of the situations that a young mother, teacher and business-owner encountered while raising 2 children born 19 years apart (PTA membership from 1973 to 2010!). Connie’s adventures while covering the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns with press passes also will amuse—especially if you thought “W” was a bonehead. (If you are not a progressive, you might not laugh quite as heartily. Be warned.) Smile. Enjoy! Laugh through life with Ava & Elise Wilson, the author’s 2-year-old twin granddaughters, who provide a never-ending supply of funny anecdotes, (just when she thought it was safe to go back in the water.)
I would like to welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson, author of Laughing Through Life to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Ms. Wilson was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:
“Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone.” (Solitude, st. I)
In 2003 my mother, then 94, began the long slow fade to black that comes for each of us. She was still of sound mind, but she had a series of small strokes which robbed her of the ability to play bridge (her passion), and it was quite clear to me, her youngest daughter, that she was fading fast. In fact, it had become clear to me that the end was near since Thanksgiving.
Later, nursing home personnel told me it was only my son’s wedding and the festivities that surrounded it that kept Mom alive six more months. I was hosting a “welcome to the community” party for the bride and groom. They had married in Matamoros and none of our Midwestern friends would be able to attend the ceremony, so a full-on party was planned, a mini-wedding reception, complete with gowns and cakes and flowers.
I carried in various outfits from the nearby shopping mall for mother to try on (over her strenuous objections that she could simply wear an old velour jogging suit I had once given her for Christmas). The preparations to bring her to the party, 60 miles away, for the evening, even though wheelchair-bound, were many and numerous. I even purchased a giant 52″ TV screen (the pre-plasma behemoths) that would replay the actual ceremony in a continuous loop. Mom would be able to see her second (of four) grandchildren being married on this large television set, (contingent upon the store being willing to re-deliver the same TV set to my house after the party was over at no additional fee, which they agreed to do.)
I urged my sister to come with me to visit Mom on Mother’s Day in the nursing home where she had resided for 5 years (a necessity imposed by her need for constant medical monitoring for her 4-shots-a-day brittle diabetes.) My 4-years-older sister, who could often be as blank as the proverbial fart, said, “Let’s wait until her birthday.”
My mother’s birthday was May 31st.
I remember saying to my completely oblivious older sister, “Kay, she won’t make it to May 31st.”
And she didn’t.
My mother died May 2, 2003 and we buried her on May 4, 2003. I had begun divesting of my businesses, my responsibilities, my very life, in order to be by her side to be able take care of her and, after that, to be able to take care of estate matters when she was gone—something I never really ever believed would actually happen before she hit 100, as my mother was an indomitable force. (My father died in 1986).
I sold my two businesses (Sylvan Learning Center #3301 and the Prometric Testing Center), businesses I had founded, two months to the day before Mom died, on March 2, 2003.
I remember asking her, on the final day of her life, as she received oxygen and faded in and out of consciousness and I held her hand, witnessing her losing the battle that I had always felt quite sure she would not lose until at least the ripe old age of 100, “What was the favorite city on Earth you ever visited?”
She was very weak, almost to the point of being unable to converse, but she was lucid. She looked at me and said, “Anywhere your father was. And Iowa City.”
Mom died in Iowa City, where she had moved over some objections from her children at the age of 82, after an entire lifetime spent in the small northeast Iowa town of Independence, a life spent teaching kindergarteners while my father worked in the bank he had founded. She slipped away in the early hours of the morning to join her husband of five decades.
While my father’s death had come at a time when I was expecting a baby and had just launched a new business, my mother’s death came when I had dropped everything else in my life, primarily to care for her. In the process of doing so, I had severed ties with my entire support network of colleagues and co-workers and customers.
My husband, recently retired, was doing taxes for H&R Block. I was at home, alone, for long hours, in what seemed like a very cold house. I later learned that the furnace was broken; it took me the better part of a week wearing a parka and gloves in the house and seeing my own breath in front of me to convince my husband that there really was something wrong with the furnace. (It turned out that it was only blowing out cold air.)
What could I do to cheer myself up? Depression was one silly millimeter away?
I dug out the humor columns I had written for a local paper in happier times, when I was a young mother, a young teacher, a budding entrepreneur. I added poetry sold, pictures, my lasagna recipe. (Nobody knew what to make of this book, when it was finished, and I imagined it only as a gift for friends and family, like those ubiquitous calendars that you make as gifts at the holiday season.) I fashioned anything I had ever sold into my second book Both Sides Now. (A few of those columns have made their way, again, into Laughing through Life, but much more of the book is new or the product of online blogs for which I have written).
I found that, as I revisited the silly or the ridiculous or the happy times represented in those columns, my mood rose. Eventually, I sent the columns and pictures off to be published. I did not know this at the time, but this marked the beginning of my “writing long” career. A lifetime hobby had turned into a time-consuming second career as a writer and publisher.
Without humor, for me there is no quality of life. And, in life, even in the grimmest of times, as limned recently in the movie “50/50” about a young man battling a life-threatening form of cancer, there can be humor in hardship.
Humor, to me, is as much what I am all about as weeping and gnashing of teeth. I hope I can continue to see the humor in life, even when I am at my lowest and things seem most bleak. Humor will sustain me and lift me up, I hope, even on my own deathbed.
Maybe I’ll leave an epitaph that says, “I can’t be done yet. I still have checks left!”
And let us not forget these sentiments from someone far more eloquent than me:
“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.”
(Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longani)
– Connie Corcoran Wilson Author of Laughing Through Life
Visit my website: http://weeklywilson.com
May you read well and often