All things come to an end and so too has the life-changing experience of writing my tribute to my brother Eugene and his partner Pieter and their journey with terminal cancer. I have finally given birth to this labour of love and Goodnight Doll is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. It has been a constant companion with me over the last couple of years or so and it feels as though I am saying goodbye to a trusted companion. It is first and foremost a tribute to Eugene and Pieter, but I hope that it might also comfort others on similar journeys and raise awareness of prostate cancer.
Although I have published a number of books before, writing this book has been a totally different experience in so many ways. By its very nature, it was an emotional experience as I relived many of the memories I had shared with my brother over the years. These memories included the fond memories of the times we lived together, our shared travelling experiences and finally the painful memories of coping with his diagnosis of terminal cancer.
In addition, I had to learn the many challenges that accompanies the process of self-publishing and coming to grips with sourcing services such as copy-editing, proof reading, book cover design to name a few and which I had in the past left to the publishers and editorial teams. The final challenge I continue to grapple with is the mind numbing art of pricing, marketing and the many suggestions and advice on how to run regular promotions. Along the journey I have learnt a great deal about the dynamic new industry of self-publishing, engaged with many new groups, both virtual and physical, and blogs I did not know existed hitherto. I have been invited to write guest blogs on a number of these sites, which has led to new avenues of writing.
Finally, I have had to deal with the question, ‘now what?’ Where does my career take me next? Do I return to the role of an academic and its associated roles or is this the start of a new beginning? The experience of writing my tribute has rekindled my love of writing and not the academic writing that has occupied so many years of my professional life. Throughout my postings I have shared with you my search of discovery and reacquainting myself with my writing voice long since silenced by the rigid and structured approach of the writing style expected by the academic community.
The metaphor of an elastic band helps to describe how I feel at the moment. If you continue to stretch a piece of elastic and then let go, it is unlikely to return to its original length and shape. Having been stretched for the duration of writing this tribute, I feel it will be impossible for me to return to the same size and shape before I embarked on this journey, namely that of an academic. Therefore, I have been engaged in many hours of soul searching in recent months as the end of this significant chapter draws near. The soft voices whispering in my ear has been telling me that it may be time for a change of career and lifestyle.
I conclude the completion of Goodnight Doll with a huge a thank you to everyone who has followed my journey of writing this tribute through the postings of my blog and for being companions on this very special and often, painful journey. Should you read the book it will no doubt have much more meaning having read the blog and followed the many challenges I have faced on the way. I share some photographs below that support and illustrate the memories of Eugene and Pieter that I refer to in my book. I end this blog with the following poem that has meant so much to Eugene and Pieter on their journey with prostate cancer.
Death is Nothing
Death is nothing at all … I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other – that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always did. Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow, Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together, Let my name be the forever household word that it was. Let it be spoken without effect, Without the trace of a shadow in it. Life means all that it ever meant, It is the same as it ever was, There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you – for an interval – somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well …
‘The King of Terrors’ by Henry Scott Holland
Photographs to support some of the stories and anecdotes shared in Goodnight Doll
Just some pictures capturing the many happy Christmases we shared on visits by Eugene and Pieter to England
I had the privilege of having Eugene walk down the isle with me on my wedding day. It was his last trip to England and he was suffering from the side affects of the the many treatments he had endured during his illness. He was on hormone therapy at the time and as a result had picked up a lot of weight.
In my book I describe how Eugene made a ‘come back’ shortly before he died and how the idea of a tea party with all the guests wearing outrageous hats was invented. At his Remembrance of Life Service, everyone who attended wearing hats with a difference. These are just some of the many interesting hats on display.
Pieter and myself, together with a dear friend of theirs, Barry, went on a pilgrimage to Clarens, to scatter Eugene’s ashes where he and Pieter were married.
Eugene and Pieter downsized when he became ill and Eugene was determined to leave a peaceful haven for Pieter to escape to when he was no longer with him.