I am sorry the spacing is way off – have tried to fix it, but nothing I did worked.
Published by: The Story Plant
Number of Pages: 242
Publish Date: June 18, 2013
Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.
Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.
A rich portrait of a family at a crossroad, The Rockin’ Chair is Steven Manchester’s most heartfelt and emotionally engaging novel to date. If family matters to you, it is a story you must read.
Steven manages to give a beautiful voice to the struggles of family relations gone bad, coming back from serving in a war, dealing with alcohol addiction, being disappointed while pursuing one’s dreams, and the ravaging consequences for the mind and soul of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. I was particularly impressed with how he expressed the latter through the eyes of the sufferer.
“The way I see it,” he said, “Alice has been cheated life’s greatest gift … her memories.”
The beauty lies not in those nasty things that happen in life, but in the way the author has with words describing it so vividly that you feel as if you become part of the story. The rocking chair is the epitome of Grampa’s memories – the good ones, the bad ones and the painful ones, all of it – bearing the names of his only son Hank and his three grand children, George, Evan and Tara.
“In the end, all we have is our memories … good or bad … and your attitudes will decide which.”
After the loss of his wife, the eyes of Grampa John are opened to what is actually happening to the members of his family. Throughout the story it becomes clear that each family member has his/her own interpretation of certain life events, and that this interpretation and the attached emotions shaped the relationship between them, easily landing one family member opposite another. But how do you overcome those obstacles so you can reach one another again?
Grampa John dropped the hammer. “I couldn’t ever figure why young folks go off into the world to find themselves. It seems to me that they don’t get lost ’til they’re out there.”
All through the story Grampa John delivers his nuggets of wisdom, observations and the life lessons he learned on the farm in particular for the benefit of his grandchildren – to help them in their battle to find their feet again.
It’s a poignant story that has a lot of truth in it. Since it is a novel, this family saga ends well, in reality, however, it is too often not as rose-colored. Nevertheless, it is a delightful story of hope and encouragement that will touch your heart!
Read an Excerpt
Elle picked up Evan, Tara and Lila at the airport. As she approached the threesome, she gasped at the sight of her emaciated daughter. For a few moments, Tara’s eyes scanned every inch of her mother’s face before she spread her twig-like arms. Elle hugged her, then pulled away and peered into her sunken eyes. “Are you sick?” she asked.
While Tara shrugged, Elle grabbed Evan for a hug. “I’ll explain it on the way,” he whispered in her ear.
Lila stood there, looking up at her grandmother—curiously.
Elle bent down and smiled at the baby. “Hello, my love,” she whispered, “Grandma’s waited much too long to meet you.” The little girl was a living doll. She had Tara’s strawberry blond curls and the same dark eyes as Alice.
Lila grinned. “Hi, Gramma,” she said, and never flinched when Elle scooped her up and kissed her cheek.
Elle looked back at Tara and could feel her eyes swell with tears.
“Grandma?” Evan asked, grabbing her attention.
Elle shook her head, the tears beginning to cascade down her tired face.
“When?” he asked.
Elle reached for his hand. “Last night…right in Grampa’s lap.”
“In the rockin’ chair?” he asked, his voice cracking.
Elle nodded again.
Evan’s eyes filled. “Where else?” he said.
Elle noticed the confusion in her daughter’s eyes and thought, She’s so out of it.
Before Elle could explain, Evan leaned into Tara’s ear and filled it with the bad news. “We’re one day too late. Grandma passed away last night.”
Though delayed, Tara burst into tears.
As they left the airport terminal, Elle walked alongside Evan. “How did you find her in New York?” she asked in a whisper. “Her cell phone’s been turned off for weeks.” She looked back at her daughter, who was already lagging behind.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said, and shook his head. “Let’s just say…thank God I did.”
Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestseller Twelve Months, Goodnight, Brian, and several other books. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Catch Up with Steven:
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