Archive for March, 2010



Posted in Family and Friends, Memoir Writing, Motherhood at 08:00 am by admin

It seems that most of the book clubs I have spoken to are made up of women in their 30’s to 40’s. Most are young mothers and I recall that when I was their age, I was always reading about motherhood, asking questions, and looking for any kind of information that would help me be a better mother.

In writing my memoir “Divine Betrayal” it became evident that my mother was not the ideal model for anyone. Mother’s mission was to serve Jesus and my father, as a mother she made sure that we did not stray from the teachings of the Bible. She read the Bible to us daily, and watched everything we did to make sure we didn’t sin. That was her duty. I always felt loved by Mother, but she was extra strict with my sister Dorothy, which was confusing to me. Not only did their personalities clash, but Dorothy was outgoing and friendly to everyone, she had an amazing sense of humor. Mother was sure that she was evil—she carried the “sins of her fathers.” Dorothy had been adopted, her birthmother had had her out of wedlock. When I became a mother I was sure that I did not want to be like my mother.

My teenage years were very restricted. I was often embarrassed and angry that (more…)



Posted in Family and Friends, Memoir Writing, Motherhood at 08:00 am by admin

A frequent question I am asked at book clubs is “What kind of influence did your mother have on your adult life, for instance, what kind of wife were you?”

As I describe in my memoir Divine Betrayal, my mother did her best to become the “perfect wife” for my father. She lived to serve Jesus and she believed she could do this by being the “perfect” helpmate to her husband, the Reverend John Peter Kolenda.

For her this meant complete self-denial, long suffering, working day and night—she was totally enmeshed in my father’s work, and strove to become (more…)


Culture Shock—Coming to America

Posted in Brazilian Culture, Memoir Writing at 03:21 pm by admin

I was at a discussion group a few days ago, and one of the participants said: “Poor people of the world are suffering, their lives are miserable, and we must do all we can to help them find happiness.” I spent a lot of time thinking about this and I am perplexed and disturbed by this typical American point of view. Here is my opinion:

I disagree that all poor people are “suffering and miserable.”  Yes, I am sure all poor people would love to have their situations improved, but I promise you that an improved situation does not (more…)


Uncovering Prejudices in Americans

Posted in Brazilian Culture at 10:14 am by admin

In my memoir, Divine Betrayal, Chapter 26, I write about Brazilian racial tensions vs. segregation in the U.S. during the 1950’s. Today, I would like to contrast the attitudes of these two very similar Nations.

The history of Brazil is similar to ours. Brazil was discovered in 1500 by Pedro Alvares Cabral from Portugal; America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus who sailed for Spain. Both countries are in the western hemisphere and both countries attained their independence within 50 years of each other. Both nations have populations made up of the native inhabitants, European immigrants and African slaves and later on, Asian migrants. However, the population makeup and racial attitudes today are very different from each other. In a recent article in The Economist, titled “Brazil Takes Off” John Prideaux, the author says: “there is no such thing as a hyphenated Brazilian.” In other words, you will not find an African-Brazilian, or Italian-Brazilian. All Brazilians are simply proud to be Brazilians.

brazilian_Grace Ann Deters

Graceann Deters and a Brazilian Friend

So, you may ask, “is there no racial tension or prejudice in Brazil?” The answer is yes, but it a different than the U.S.A. I will explain how these differences have occurred.

Firstly, many African slaves were brought to Brazil. Depending on which book you read, the estimate ranges between 3.6 and 4.5 million slaves who were brought to Brazil after 1550. America imported 645,000 African slaves. Brazilian slaves were freed in 1880 and today Brazil has the second largest black population in the world, next to Nigeria.

My point is this, unlike the U.S., Brazilian slaves were encouraged to bring their culture with them such as their songs, musical instruments, dance, religion etc… They were also encouraged to intermarry with the Indians, Portuguese, and other immigrants. This resulted in some very unique cultural events found only in Brazil. For instance the religion “Condomble” is the mixture of Catholicism and African religions. There are several names for this mixture, depending on which city you live in. For instance, in Florianopolis, my home town, it is known mainly as Macumba. On New Years Eve there is a beautiful celebration where the congregants dress in white, take home-made boats filled with flowers to the beaches, and launch them into the ocean as they throw more flowers into the water in honor of the goddess of the Sea “Iemanja.”


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