Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Christmas Present

 I received many wonderful and unforgettable gifts for Christmas this year, but one of the best was the review of my memoir, Dear Elvis, that follows.

McCloe presents a heartwarming memoir with fictionalized elements about dealing with the death of the man she loves by writing letters addressed to Elvis Presley. The author tells the story of how she, a middle-aged divorced woman, fell in love with Don, a widower. They met at work, where they both drove school buses for a living, and became close friends, lovers, and then just close friends again before Don’s death, due to heart failure. At the start of this work, Don has already died and McCloe is coping with her pain by writing missives in a diary, begging the spirit of Elvis in the afterlife to pass along messages to Don. This correspondence chronicles her feelings as she manages such emotions as denial, anger, heartbreak, hope, and finally, peace. She also begins a friendship with a priest named Father Chris (a fictional, composite character), who encourages her to find a way to move on. As the author reveals more about Don’s life and their connection, Father Chris affirms her suffering while also urging her to memorialize Don in her own way, and live her life in a manner that would make Don proud. Her letters then directly address Elvis, asking him about his life and telling how his music career positively affected her as she attempts to find catharsis. Over the course of this book, McCloe’s prose is relatable, likable, and highly sincere; she’ll make readers think about how one can easily take one’s relationships—and, indeed, one’s life—for granted. The changing format of the letters keeps the narrative engaging and propels the story forward in an offbeat way. This book will likely appeal most to those who are coming to terms with personal grief, as it accurately conveys the conflicting emotions that come with the grief journey, while also honing in on how one always has the ability to find joy again. A grounding and deeply human take on love and loss.                                                                                                                                                     Kirkus Reviews                             
   Dear Elvis is available at      


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Two Days Before Christmas

I'm feeling lazy today although I'm almost ready for Christmas. I put up the tree last week and mailed all the cards - the guys at work were sweet. One came into a crowded break room as usual, took his seat beside me, and whispered,“Thank  you for the card,” A young driver, who always treats me as though I were a princess, shyly called me from the room to thank me; and a third, who is always sweet, simply said “thank you.”

Anyway, all I have left to do is wrap the presents, of which there are few, because this year, we are doing a pollyanna in a family that seems to be growing exponentially, and because I am trying to save money so I can finally retire.

And so I am just sitting here staring at my tree, wishing the presents were wrapped, and thinking about a family that grew by just one more than two thousand years ago.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Great Expectations

A friend and I were talking about Christmas.  “So many people are unhappy,” he began then stopped.

“Maybe it’s because they have too many expectations” I interjected.

“Unrealistic ones,” he added. “They think things are supposed to be the way they are in all the movies they see on television,” he said, and I agreed.

That night I dreamt I was sitting in on a writing class.

“What’s your story about?” the instructor asked a student.
“It’s a story about a girl who falls in love with a guy who mistreats her. But I’m having trouble with the ending.”

“Oh, that one’s easy,” the instructor replied. “It’s the story of Beauty and the Beast. But in this one, the beast remains a beast, and the girl has to find a way to accept that.

“What’s your story about?” he asked a woman sitting by a window.

“It’s a story about a woman who falls in love but something happens and she never sees him again.”

“That one’s easy too,” said the instructor. “You’re writing the classic fairytale.”

“I suppose I am,” she muses. “The whole time she knew him she felt like Cinderella at the ball. But when she lost her shoe, no one came after her.”

“That’s so sad,” a student from the back of the class called out.”

“Not sad. Realistic,” said the teacher

“And sometimes,” I said, “it’s not the end that’s worth remembering, but the middle” 

And with that, I woke up.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

On Writing Again

After I wrote my last post (La, La, La) my daughter Cindi, who edits all my posts, said, “It’s all over the place.”

Is she right? I wondered until I read it back and saw she was.

“It’s also fun,” she added, so I published it anyway, all the while wondering, why can’t I write? What’s wrong with me? until doubt – otherwise known as writer’s block - turned to despair.

“Leave it alone and it will come back to you,” a friend told me once when I complained about being unable to write. So, I tried and failed, and tried and failed, until I finally left it alone – for a week, for a month, for months until one day when I picked up something I wrote long ago and thought, I am a writer! And I began, doggedly, to write again. And the block that had become a boulder began ever so slowly to dissipate and, finally, disappeared.


Thursday, December 2, 2021

La, La, La

 Last week I got to enjoy five days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. There was a time when having five days off would have freaked me out. Like: OMG, how am I going to fill all this time?!?!!  But since I turned 80, I am really enjoying time away from work. Being 80 is also a great excuse for getting out of work. Like: 

My daughter: Mom, can you empty the dishwasher? 

Me: No! I'm 80.

My boss: Can you do an extra (school bus) run?

Me: Are you crazy? I'm 80?

Last Friday, which happened to be Black Friday, I ran out to (I don't remember what I ran out for!) and found this adorable (but large) bear for my youngest great-grandson's second birthday. Afterward, I sat

in the kitchen cooking scrapple ( a Philadelphia delicacy and a great alternate to turkey) and getting ready to watch Get Back, the new Beatles documentary.

It's funny but I never liked the Beatles much when I was younger, but now (that  I'm 80), I love them. One of my favorite Beatles songs is Hey, Jude. I especially love the la, la la, in the middle. It's so typical of their silly but serious style (which is a lot like mine). Listening to their music and moving is a good way to get my daily 7000 steps, which I recently reduced from 10,000 (because after all, I am 80!)   

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Friends and Family

I was so taken by something my grandson, Rob, put on Facebook, I decided to post it here:

You know what's a great feeling? Reconnecting with people from your past. Over the past two years, I've been doing just that. Reconnecting with people I haven't seen since high school and college, and it’s been amazing. Catching up with people, seeing how they’ve grown up, and who there’ve become. But an even more amazing feeling is when you get together with people you haven’t seen in 5, 10, or even 15 years and it’s like you were with them just yesterday.

I feel truly blessed to have the friendships I have. If you’re someone who never left my life, you’re awesome; if you’re someone I reconnected with recently, you’re awesome; and if you’re someone I haven’t reconnected with, you’re awesome and I miss you. Let’s hang out.


Rob and two of his cousins have experienced other miracles in the past two years – the birth of three of my greatgrandchildren: Malcolm, who was born in October 2019, Grayson, born in December 2019 and little Amaya (in the middle) born in February 2020, all of whom kept me going throughout the pandemic.   




Monday, October 18, 2021

"Late" Night TV(Land)

 I used to watch the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, every night until I knew every word in every scene in every episode. And then I stopped watching it. But the other night I wasn’t sleepy at my usual bedtime, so I turned it on. The episode playing was the one in which Raymond turns the bathroom over to his wife Debra who installs a dimmer switch and fills it with candles and flowers. 

This one isn’t so funny, I thought. But I put my phone down and started watching it anyway, and before long I was laughing – not just laughing but laughing out loud and long. I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed like that. 

After it ended, I turned out the light, put my head on my pillow and, remembering the ending, I laughed again, which felt so good. It changed my perspective. It made me feel better, lighter, happier. It also helped me remember something from my past – a memory came back to me as clear as a bell and I re-lived it and felt it the way I did the first time it happened. Wow, I thought as I felt that most wonderful, most elusive feeling of all – joy.