Archive for March, 2009


Beth’s Shooting

Posted in Excerpts at 01:39 pm by admin

Excerpt – Prologue – Beth’s Shooting

Beth and Matt Rohde

Beth and Matt Rohde

For the past fourteen years, I have relived the phone ringing in my kitchen in Minneapolis, and hearing the voice of my grown daughter, Beth, coming ever so softly over the line from Brazil. “Mommy, I’ve been shot.”  My daughter’s trauma, as it unfolded, became an uncanny metaphor for my own past.  Beth’s blood and pain, and the prevailing grace that marked the months of her healing, became the first seeds for writing this memoir of faith’s recovery.

            On the evening of Beth’s shooting, the air outside was clear and oppressively hot.  From a nearby construction site arose a steady cacophony of clanging hammers, along with a succession of fireworks, irregular and arrhythmic, like the first kernels of popping corn.  Beth and Carmem sat in a corner, practicing Portuguese. —

      A sharper, louder bang exploded outside-gunfire?  More fireworks?  Beth and Carmem went on with their language lesson. In the corner, the television droned to no one. .

       A second shot was fired just after the first.  As the noise broke, Beth cupped her hand to her mouth to capture eruptions of warm blood and sand. But the blood splattered through her fingers to stain the walls, the furniture, and the beautiful Persian rug.  The “sand” in Beth’s mouth was shattered tooth and bone from her jaw, and also from her ring finger, which had rested upon her smooth cheek, directly in the bullet’s path. (more…)


My Neighborhood Friends

Posted in Excerpts at 09:42 am by admin

EXCERPT – Chapter Nine – My Neighborhood Friends

My Neighborhood Friends

My Neighborhood Friends

According to my father, my mother and Dorothy should never have to collect wood for the stove.  It was my job to check the bin, which was right next to the stove, every day, and collect enough wood to keep it heaping full.            

      ” Ha,ha,” Dorothy teased.  “Little Gracie actually has to do some work.  I hope it doesn’t kill you.”

       The wood supply was in the back of the house, which made my task no small feat.  It took so many trips back and forth that it soon became not only arduous, but worse yet, boring.  While my many neighbor friends pleaded with me to play, I lugged armloads of wood back and forth from the back of our yard to the kitchen. 

       “Come play!  Come play!” my friends shouted from the road.  The sound of them made me crazy as I trekked, back and forth, back and forth, sweat running between my shoulder blades and from my hairline into my eyes.  And then I came upon an idea.

       “I can play as soon as I finish,” I yelled back.  “As soon as the woodbin is full!”  This worked more beautifully than I could have imagined.  My friends swarmed in like so many worker bees to help me.  Sometimes I offered a reward of Mother’s fresh-baked cookies, but usually all I needed was to promise I’d play when the work was done, and my friends set to the hauling. Dorothy looked on with envy and disgust as my assembly line of friends did my work for me. (more…)


My two Beautiful Friends

Posted in Excerpts at 08:53 pm by admin

EXCERT – Chapter Twenty-Four – My Two Beautiful Friends



Graceann, Yvonne and Stella

Graceann, Yvonne and Stella

Stella and I found other ways to get away together.  Whenever we had a holiday from school, we went to Urubici and stayed with Stella’s parents.  Often our friend Yvonne came along-another beautiful girl, who was tall and slender, with straight blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. Sometimes I couldn’t understand how I, with my plain face and “big bones,” my long braids and my dark dresses, overweight, and with no makeup could fit in with such pretty friends.  Yvonne’s father owned a trucking company, and he was always willing to let us hitch a ride to Urubici with one of his drivers.  Often, Yvonne tagged along with us for as long as her Catholic school schedule allowed.  Our winter breaks that year fell at the same time, and we spent three weeks together in Urubici.  It was a vacation soaked in sin.  First off, Yvonne was Catholic, and being in her company was in itself an endangerment to my soul.  The situation was irresistible.  We stayed at a truly glorious ranch with horseback riding and picnics every afternoon.  When it rained, we listened to music in the house.  We even danced.  This would have been an absolute scandal if anyone had seen us and reported it to the church. (more…)


My Sister

Posted in Excerpts at 10:10 am by admin

EXCERPT – Chapter Seventeen – My Sister

My Family - 1934

My Family - 1934

Lourdes took my shoulders in her hands and pulled me in close. “Grace,” she whispered, and I could feel her breath on my cheeks, “please do not tell these girls that Dorothy is not your sister.”What on earth was she talking about? I could hardly open my mouth to speak. I answered haltingly, “Of course. I won’t say anything.”But in truth I had no idea what Lourdes meant. That night after we came home from the church in town, I asked Mother what Lourdes had meant by her comment.”You will have to ask your father when he comes home next week. He can explain it to you.”I didn’t know what to say or what to think. It didn’t seem real. But I didn’t say a word to Dorothy. Finally, Dad arrived. Within minutes, Mom told him what had happened. He asked me to come into his study and he’d tell me all about Dorothy. “Dorothy is your adopted sister,” (more…)

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