Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Rockin’ Chair by Steven Manchester


The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester

"With this chair comes three wishes: that our children will enjoy a sound sleep each night; that throughout our lives together, this chair will remind us to sit back and relax once in a while. And finally, that it will find us in our twilight years, rocking our grand-kids and counting the memories we've made together."

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.
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Steven Manchester

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 ShowCBS’s The Early ShowCNN’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.

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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.”
My Review:
I have read other books by Steven Manchester and they have all touched my heart, but not as this one did. The thread that binds this Montana family together is slowly losing her memories to Alzheimer's, and her strong, gentle husband is forced to stand by and keep vigil, because there is nothing he can do. He's made his peace, but "I don't know how many times I can say good-bye to my squaw."

"Big John - as many people called him - was not the largest man in the county. In fact, there were a few men who dwarfed him in size. 'The nickname was probably given to describe his heart'...Now, this tortured soul rocked slow and easy to the beat of that big, broken heart."

Those few sentences from the book aptly describe Grampa John as his grandchildren grew up calling him. He was their grandfather, but the John part helped them be friends. Grampa John was a quiet man of few words, but when he spoke, they were words of wisdom. When Alice passes on, he realizes he still has a mission. He must set his family right before he can join her. 

"Unwilling to waste this precious time with her, he leaned into her ear and spoke. 'Squaw, we had a wonderful life together, you and me. I can see you've about had your fill of me, but before you set your mind on leavin' for good, I need to thank you for...' He touched his forehead to hers and whispered. 'Thank you for givin' me such a good life, Alice.' ...He kissed her softly, whispered, 'Good-bye, my love,' and silently prayed that the Lord would shroud her in His angels...It's time to call my three injuns home. Alice's hourglass is about empty and Georgey, Evan and Tara should say their good-byes."

Responding to their Grandfather's letters telling them it's time to come home, each of his three grandchildren make their way back to the mountain in Montana where peace reigns. Each grandchild returns home broken and bruised from the world outside the mountain, and John knows that before he can join Alice in the beyond, he must somehow help to heal those that he loves.

The Rockin' Chair is a story about family, warts and all. It is about facing our truths, good and bad. It is about forgiveness and renewal. It is about recognizing that as the sure as the sun rises each morning, we all have a second chance at life. It is a story about our purpose in life. And, it is a book that will touch your heart and leave you thinking for a long time after you are through.

Wisdom from Grampa John

And what we forget is "People ignorantly trod over the morning, never realizing that the night has offered another beginning."

"Grampa John, I think the worst thing Carley did was take away my faith." "Ain't possible Evan! A man gives up his faith. Ain't no one can take it away."

"I knew you was hurtin' bad, Georgey, and I'm sure some folks say don't let it bother ya. But to tell ya the truth, I'm real glad it does."..."At least you ain't lost yourself, Georgey. That's the best foundation to start from...the only thing I figure you need knowin' right now is this...forgiveness is like respect, George. You can't expect on enjoyin' it 'til you're willin' to give it away...And sometimes that means givin' it to yourself."

"'The three of you - when you shut your eyes tonight, I want you to picture that today was your last. If you're happy with what you see, then I wouldn't change a thing...but if you're not...' George, Evan, and Tara quickly found each other's eyes. The old man wasn't trying to clarify happiness. His gifts were greater. He was confirming their very purposes for living. Grampa John's simple wisdom and unconditional love were their second chance at life."

Purchase The Rockin' Chair here on Amazon

Disclaimer/Disclosure. I received a complimentary copy of this book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art, book description, and any excerpts are courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. Book Trailers are a free feature. All videos are provided by the author who has granted My Life. One Story at a Time. permission to post them on this blog. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of My Life. One Story at a Time. My Life. One Story at a Time. is an advertising affiliate with Amazon, a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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