Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review of Carrying Albert Home

Carrying Albert Home

by Homer Hickam

A Somewhat true Memoir

I heard about Albert way before his fascinating story was revealed in Carrying Albert Home from Homer Hickam himself. As a fan and a follower of Mr. Hickam's work, I began noticing his own postings of photos of a stuffed alligator including selfies and travels as if the stuffed version of Albert were a Flat Stanley. 
Via Homer Hickam Facebook

My curiosity was peaked.

It was not long before the bestselling author explained his new obsession with all things alligator. I was hooked and began anticipating the story to come.

I was not disappointed. 

Carrying Albert Home is warm, funny and endearing. Fiction and non-fiction are blended together with such a delicate weave you don’t realize what is true and what is not. You however, are charmed by the main characters, Homer and Elsie as they struggle to understand their relationship. While humans can be so complicated, you add an alligator and a rooster and then it gets oddly weird but in a good way.

This story is so well told, revealing the affection the writer has for the characters, who are in fact, his real parents. You can’t help but smile as you read the Hickam’s wild adventures. Their road trip takes us through a time warp of an America that is far different from today’s culture.

As in Forest Gump fashion, the Hickam’s encounter a famous writer researching one of his iconic novels. He encourages Elsie to write, but as we all know it would be her son named Homer who would be the bestselling writer, but that's another story.  See below:
Rocket Boys
The Memoir that October Sky is based on

Albert is the strangest alligator I have ever heard of and I grew up near New Orleans. I remember as a young girl, my father brought home a small one and it was scary, mean, and wanted to bite me. 

Elsie must have been an alligator whisperer. 

Elsie treats the creature like a beloved dog, petting and cuddling with it, which adds to the hilarity of the situation...and then you add a strange rooster to the mix.

(FYI: I have been attacked by a rooster, no love for them either....but I did have a pet chicken named Lovey who did a few tricks and would ride the bicycle with me!)

Still, after reading about the beloved Albert, I will NOT be going the swamps to collect a pet alligator. 

From the beginning, you realize that Elsie Hickam is not happy with the way her life has turned out. She has unfulfilled dreams. This becomes a serious flaw in the relationship between her and her husband, Homer. This continuous struggle of miscues, misconceptions, and self-doubt keep us wondering if this marriage will endure.

Without giving anything away, its an amazing ride and worth the read. Somewhat true or not, it touches on real heartstrings and true human emotions.

Homer has done it again!I highly recommend this charming book!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Brother's Journey with Depression

My little brother, Joe has a lot of talents. He works very hard five days a week teaching school, including afternoon practices with the soccer team he coaches. On Saturday he works at his other job at the Space Center nearby and he is the father to two precious little boys. 
Joe is funny, born to entertain! Just ask anyone who knows him. He is legendary as the crazy High School Mascot and was voted so many Who's who that he had to chose which ones to keep in high school. He seeks out attention in crowds and usually gets it. His face is the one on the big screen with his ugly teeth dentures he had made and his cap sideways. Anything for a laugh!
But, as many comedians, the laughter is an external facade that covers an inward battle with depression. 
 Look at Robin Williams, who eventually succumbed to his hopelessness, or research funny man Jim Carey who performs on demand but struggles with his dark side in real life.
Recently, my brother  had a message. He shares much of his battle now, it is out in the open. His reflections are to help others understand what its like to be trapped in your mind by darkness.
Its so real. It so sad. Sometimes this disorder lies in wait until a life trauma or event knocks you off your feet. In my brother's case, it was the death of my husband, and a close friend, mentor and big brother to him that opened up a dark box within Joe that he still has to cope with.

You may know someone who suffers with depression or anxiety if not yourself. Mental illness is all around. 

Here are his words: 

To our youth: 
I see your pain.... I know your confusion..... Pain, anger, frustration. Life can be cruel, cold and ominous! It can rob you of even the most simple joys. Have you ever been so angry that it totally consumes you and everything within your reach? Have you ever been so hopeless that even those closest can't ease the isolation and pain you are feeling? Have you ever been in a place in which it seems you can never escape......minutes seem like days?

Peace? What is peace? Where can I find that place of restfulness ? Does it exist? Is this a made up word ???....someone's cruel idea of a joke? A silly foolish ideology that only others feel during times like this. 
It all changed faster than the blink of an eye. Things that made since no longer do. Things that used to comfort you no longer have the ability. The very life has been sucked from your insides. Gut punched by recent events. Your pain is real and palatable.

I assure you that what you are feeling is not artificial and not a mistake. It isn't a figment of your imagination..... A passing feeling most likely no. For many of you this may be the first step towards growing up.... The first indication we aren't invincible. For some this may be the first indication that life offers something besides carefree moments and mindless laughter. For some...reaching this crossroads will be too much. They will turn inwardly..... Compartmentalize their feelings and pain. Place them in a nice neat space deep down inside. They may turn to alcohol or drugs or shut themselves off from the world around them.

Let me offer my heartfelt advice....... My heart sympathizes with your situation. The days ahead of you will be lost in a plethora of what If"s!!!! I coulda.....,I shoulda"s !!!! 

Refrain ..... Walk away from such rhetoric. 

This thought process comes from an evil place. It's meant to sideline any progress of healing and prevent you from finding underlying meanings of what God may be wanting you to learn from such events. Don't give in!!! Open your heart. Welcome anger!!! Welcome pain!!! Welcome grief !!! These unpleasant feelings are all a part of the process. You can get through this stronger than before.

I have been there. I have traveled every road you are currently facing and I chose poorly. Anger.... Depression and despair. 

I leaned on self and my own power. I caused myself endless amounts of darkness. Much of this was unnecessary. It was a poor selfish decision...... Thinking I had the power to overcome these things. 

Trust me. You do not ! YOU DO NOT!!!

Losing someone close is a deeply personal tragedy. Do not let it rob you from what God has for your future. 

Sometimes God may crush you!!! Smash you to nothing in order to build you back in the image of his son. Don't resist..... You will run but can't hide. Alcohol can't cover it...... Activities....... Anger........ Nothing can be hidden behind when God is speaking. Take it from an escapee..... There isn't peace! There is no rest.

Each of you are precious gifts from God. 

Each one of you has something inside you that no other person on the face of the earth has. A specialness given by your creator. 

Don't make the mistakes I made. Don't lose your way. Don't take the easy road. It will be lined with regret and darkness.

Life has only just begun. These tragedies have much to teach. 

As we walk into the future..... Know that the ones that go before us live in our hearts. Their goodness joy and love can shine on through us...... The ones that loved them.