Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Countdown to Three Dances: Do It Now

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Countdown to Three Dances: Do It Now

I don't cry often.

It's not so much because I think I must be manly (although I sometimes do) as because I think I must be calm. I don't like letting my emotions get the better of me. When things get hard, I try to get rational and quiet and thoughtful.

But I cried last weekend.

Those of you who have been following the Three Dances posts will remember that I talked about a subject that made my stomach churn and my eyes tear up. This is it. And I am now three paragraphs into talking about it without having talked about it at all. That's how hard it is to write about for me.

One of my grandmothers did the art for Three Dances. She is an amazing, wonderful woman; donated her time and art to the book; and has been a mentor and a guiding light to me in ways I don't think she fully understands, because she is also a humble person.

But she's not the grandmother who has been most supportive of my writing over the course of my life.

Since I was a teenager, my other grandmother has encouraged me to be a writer. When she visited, she asked how my writing was going. When I was in college, she was thrilled to hear that I was studying writing, even though everyone knew it was never likely to be particularly remunerative. When we talked, she always, at some point, said, "Now, you're still writing, aren't you?" She was never pushy, but I always knew that she thought it was amazing that I was writing, and that she would be proud as a peach when my first book came out.

After my grandfather died, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, or something so much like it that nobody other than a doctor is likely to care about the difference.

But still, she knew I was a writer. During the times when the disease was just taking hold and she would only forget my name and not my face, she knew I was a writer. When we spoke, she still wanted to make sure that I was writing. It was very important to her. That's one of the funny things about that disease; you get to see what's important to people, because they talk about the same things over and over again.

In the last year, her disease has gotten much worse. I don't think she really knows who I am anymore. When we see each other, she gives me a huge smile and a hug and a kiss and says, "Oh, what a good-looking young man!" because, even as her brain wanders away from her, she is still just that kind of a person.

Last weekend I brought the proof copy of Three Dances to my parents' house so that I could share it with them and my grandmothers. And as I sat a table and waited for her to arrive, I realized that the grandmother who for years had encouraged me to write books would never really know that I had finished one, and that it was being published.

So I cried. And I'm crying again now, as I write this.

Because I could have done better. I could have done sooner. I could have published Three Dances, or Soulwoven, or something very much like them, while she was still capable of recognizing me and truly, deeply knowing that I had done something she had always wanted me to do.

So my advice to you is this: whatever thing you want to do with your life, do it now. Don't wait. There are people to whom your dreams are more important than you yet realize. And if you wait too long to make things happen, you may lose the chance to share wonderful moments with them.

I will never know what my grandmother's reaction to my first book would have been if it had come out five years ago. When I was younger, she was a very deep and thoughtful person. I wish I could know what she would have said and done.

Last weekend, her reaction was "That's wonderful! You wrote this? Where can I buy this? [pause, during which conversation moves on a little] I will give you two dollars for this!"

I told her her copy was on its way, and I laughed, because that reaction was so much better than what it could have been.

But still. Do it now. Whatever it is. Don't wait. We all only get so much time.

-Jeff

You can buy Three Dances here, here, or here.

2 comments:

  1. Looking forward to reading it, Jeff. Kendall's posts brought it to my attention. Maybe you'll have some answers for me in those stories. I wonder why dementia exists, why people live within it, as I see my own mother slowly affected. Carolyn was my mom's dear friend over at the condos. She is a brilliantly wonderful woman.
    My mom's at Elk Run, and I met your parents there once, so I'll bet your other grandmother is living there too. Why why why, I ask myself, does life take that direction instead of the one that Carolyn is so blessed to live. Anyway, I understand your tears and your laughter.
    Jill Ridder (Andy's mom)

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    1. Thanks, Jill! I don't know that my stories will give you any answers, but I hope they'll at least be something else to chew on for a bit :-). I ask the same questions about dementia myself. Most days I can trust that there's a good reason for it; observing it has certainly taught me a lot about life.

      But other days are just hard.

      Anyway, give your mother a hug for me next time you see her! And give Andy my best as well. :-)
      -Jeff

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