Weedmonkey is the true story of my mother’s life growing up in the coal mining camps of Appalachia during the Depression as the daughter of the town prostitute.
What’s unique about this story is my mom began writing it when I was a child. I knew every name, every face, every town, every hardship, and every abuse. I was so familiar with this book, it was as though I had grown up with my mom, side by side.
Sadly, in 2006, my mom became ill and was given three months to live. At that point, her book was the last thing on my mind. My priority was making sure she was comfortable, clean, and pain-free. I wanted her to have a good death when it came.
It wasn’t until she called me into her bedroom one day that the word Weedmonkey came back into my life. Looking up at me with her crystalline blue eyes, she said in a soft, honey accent, “Honey, I want to talk to you about Weedmonkey.”
In that moment, it dawned on me. Oh my God, my mother was dying. This was not a dream, it was really happening. My mother was dying. A flood of emotion washed over me and not only was I heartbroken that my mother was dying, I was heartbroken because her dream was dying with her.
She said, “I can’t stick around and finish this book.”
“I know,” I whispered, “am I’m sorry, I’m so sorry about that Ma.”
She smiled and said, “Well honey, would you finish it for me?”
“Me? You want me to finish writing it for you? But it’s your story, your book!”
“I know,” she said, “but you are a wonderful writer and you are the only one I trust to get the message out to people.”
“I want people to know they can rise above abuse, grinding poverty, and shame. They can come from nothing like I did and make something of their lives. They don’t have to be defined by their childhood or the people who raised them. They can overcome a bad life and go on to have a good one. That’s what I want people to know. Will you do that for me?”
“Yes,” I whispered, “I’d be honored.”
WINNER Honorable Mention in Memoirs/Non-Ficiton 2017