|Posted by Stephen James Smith on August 3, 2015 at 1:25 PM|
By Deborah Williams Smith
Author, Settling - 100 Snippets of Life from a Mid-Century Woman
My husband, Stephen, is my “trinity”. He is my husband, editor, and now promoter. It has been deemed that I will become a “blog writer”. I barely understand what a blog is, and now, it seems, I am "a blog writer”. I dare say, at age 65, that somebody should make efforts to keep me current.
“How did the book Settling come to be?” he asked me. Suddenly, I felt like a bird picking up seeds who was then asked to remember the first seed she had ever picked up. Settling has lived with me for a very long time.
My father, Harry in Settling, first taught me what love was. He was self-sacrificial, bordering on self-neglectful, but he certainly lived every day for me. He did that for about 20 years, and then he died. The shock was horrible for me, and perhaps it was during the time afterwards that I first thought of writing a book to honor him. And then there was my aunt (Magna in the book) whom I deem to be the strongest woman I have ever known. I wanted to honor her, and her sister, who was my mother. Mom (Ione in Settling) never got over Dad’s attention-shift to me since my birth - she mothered out of duty, but I still wanted to honor her and the battles she fought with depression and anxiety.
Mom lived 30 years beyond Dad, who was, of course, no longer around for her many heart attacks. I was there, trying to fill his shoes. Dad’s family later told me he had not been happy in their marriage. Yet, my parents seemed happy after I married and left home. For those two brief years, she had him back to herself. Was he settling? Was he just too old to make changes? Probably; but he died in 1970 having fulfilled his duty. The WWII generation knew all about that.
I remember being in New Orleans after my divorce, circa 1985. I was perched on my second floor balcony above the Esplanade in the French Quarter; a balcony that was mine for one week out of the year.
I could smell the flowers’ aroma and feel the moisture of the air soothing my Chicago-wintered skin. I was still in love with a man I had known (Laverne in Settling) who was too many years my senior, and I started debating in my head the value of “settling” versus “not settling” in love. Who knew what was right in these situations? You did the best you could. That man had earned a bronze star on the Bridge at Remagen before I was born. He had been a medic and had removed men from the bridge under fire. By that time, the title of Settling was floating about in my head.
Years later, past the turn of the century, my aunt was very elderly and near death. My mother, her sister, had always told me that my aunt’s first husband, Dall, had died in the “Battle of the Bulge”. I was sitting by my aunt’s side. At that time I was a widow trying to keep up with the overwhelming demands which had been heaped upon me – I was driving constantly from Chicago to the lake region in Missouri, so I would stop to see my aunt when coming and going. This time I wanted to ask her about Dall, her first husband.
I said to her, “So Dall died in the Battle of the Bulge, right?”
My aunt turned her head towards mine and looked directly into my eyes. “No,” she said, “he did not.”
I was shocked. Her next words took my breath away.
“He died at Remagen.”
That’s when I knew for sure I would write the book called Settling.