Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Excerpt: Going Home for Christmas

Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Focused on Story. Today, I am sharing part of my story, my own story. I've been writing my memoir seriously since 2016 about the first year we were in the floral business in Fremont, Michigan. This excerpt is the story of our returning home to Atlanta, Illinois, for Christmas after moving to Michigan in December 1975.

Looking through Rose-colored Glasses
A Memoir

Synopsis for Looking Through Rose-colored Glasses (working title)
Just like jumping out of a plane without a parachute while holding a one-year-old baby in her arms, Janet and her husband, Ted, leap from the stability of family, friends, and financial security into the uncertainty of fulfilling their dream of owning and operating a floral business. Going against the norms of 1976, believing a woman’s place is in the home, she spends sleepless nights wrestling with how she can balance motherhood with the demands of working outside the home.
With no knowledge or experience operating a business or selling fresh flowers, can they safely land on their feet? The shop owners, Helen and Al, whom they’d just met, assure Ted and Janet the flower business is healthy and they will help them learn how to run the operation. But can they be trusted? Janet and Ted face the monumental task together to nurture their baby daughter and their new business.
Follow their inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced by these blossoming entrepreneurs as they travel along the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.
Home for Christmas
Photo by Dids from Pexels
Excerpt: Chapter 7--Home for Christmas December 1975. 

(Business owner's names changed to protect identity)

We took off our “rose-colored” glasses and faced the truth. The transition from being “just crazy kids” on an adventure filled with rainbows and lollipops among the roses to adult, responsible business owners became real to us on that trip home. We had prepared ourselves for the move and all the changes in our lives, but we hadn’t considered any kind of a problem with our relationship with Helen. Instead, we came to grips of thinking of her as not a mentor, but rather our nemesis.
            Dread washed over me. What if Helen wouldn’t teach me how to make those enormous funeral arrangements, casket sprays, wreaths? What if she wouldn’t come in to help me learn how to make the flower bouquets and corsages for the weddings and decorate the candelabra?
            We needed her expertise on the lead time we should plan to get our orders in and what wholesale vendors she relied on for her goods. What about the bookkeeping and accounts?

            The only comforting thought I could scratch out of the situation was Helen would help us if she wanted any money from us. If we failed, she would fail. Does she want us to fail? The thought spun through my brain. Could anyone be that wicked?
Home. There is nothing like coming back home to Atlanta even if we had only been gone about three weeks. I relaxed as I hadn’t done in what seemed like months.
We pulled in to the funeral home where my Mom and Dad lived in the second story apartment, exactly what we were doing—living over the business. They had purchased the funeral home from Dad’s only competition in 1966, so I never called it home. But having my parents there made it home.
Mom practically ran down the steps from the huge wrap around, screened-in porch of the redwood Victorian house. She was at the car door before I could open my door. I had never seen her so happy and giddy. Her joy at seeing us was so evident, I felt a flash of guilt for taking her granddaughter away from her. Mom grabbed Sara and hugged and kissed her while Ted and I unloaded the car and dragged everything upstairs to a huge bedroom in the apartment. Mom had even furnished it with a wooden playpen where Sara could sleep near us.
Mom finally let go of Sara when she decided to get dinner ready. Then my dad took over. He was a tall, handsome gentleman and seeing him sitting with one-year-old Sara in his arms made my eyes shiny with tears. In fact, when she was born, my dad was going to stay home in Atlanta instead of driving up to Marseilles to see the baby. But even his responsibilities at the funeral home didn’t keep him away from Sara. He drove up the minute we came home from the hospital. He was in love with this little gal.
We had a whirlwind of visiting during that Christmas week. We wanted to spend time with each side of the family, but scheduling was tight and exhausting.
Grandmother Mildred, who lived only four miles away, was just as excited to see Sara, yes, Sara. Somehow Sara took the limelight wherever we went. She fussed over her as did Ted’s sisters.
I hated saying good-byes again, but this time my heart didn’t ache. I knew I was ready to begin a new chapter in my life. Atlanta would always feel like home to me, but instead of being sad at leaving, I was exhilarated at the chance to make a new home with Ted and Sara at its center. 

I looked forward to jumping into the excitement and challenge of being a business owner and floral designer.  Watch out Helen, here we come!
GOOD NEWS: If you enjoyed this excerpt from my memoir, you can read part of the first chapter of the book at Dr. Bob Rich's blog, "Bobbing Around" as an entry in his current contest. I am pleased my first chapter excerpt was chosen by four distinguished judges for the shortlist. The public will choose the winner from the top 10 stories

You can read the 1000 word submission along with the other entries at his blog, "Bobbing Around" and he'll send you a free book when you vote!!
Click here to see the 10 entries
Vote for 3 of your favorites. Deadline for voting is December 23. Thank you.
Have you moved away from home to start a new life? Tell us about it. 
Please leave feedback on the excerpt. I'm always looking to improve my writing. Thank you!!


Computer Tutor said...

What an exciting life you've led. A funeral home owner! You'd be the second person I know like that. Looking forward to reading more.

J.Q. Rose said...

Yes, my dad AND 2 brothers AND my niece were funeral directors. Talk about a family business. That s why I wrote Deadly Undertaking, a cozy mystery. It takes place in a funeral home...!!

Helena Fairfax said...

What an exciting start to your excerpt, JQ. And I felt all your mum's excitement, too, as she ran down those stairs to greet you all. It seems you had a bumpy road to success, but you stuck at it. Good luck with finishing your inspiring memoir!
Happy Christmas to you and Ted and family, and all best wishes for 2019 x

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Helena, yes indeed. It was difficult to uproot ourselves from home and take off for the unknown adventure of starting a business in a new place. We didn't know anyone and had to just trust strangers to help us. Merry Christmas to you and Nigel and best wishes for a fabulous New Year 2019!

Joselyn Vaughn said...

I am excited to read more of this. I always enjoy the details you share.

Nan P said...

I loved reading this. Can't wait to read the whole memoir!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks, Joselyn.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks, Nan. I can't wait to get it finished!! LOL.

Marsha said...

Excited to read the whole thing when you publish this, JQ. Thanks so much for putting all this down in your special way with words. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Marsha, thank you. That means for sure one reader! LOL..And thanks for the compliment "your special way with words."

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