Monday, April 22, 2013

Evelyn's Story (Why I do this?)

The personal stories victims of heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, share the same underlying theme. Its reoccurring message happens so frequently the importance gets lost.  According to the American Heart Association, about every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. My grandmother was an incredible woman and unfortunately she can’t be here to share a story of survival. It has been left me to share the story of her life and the reason that I formed Poems With Heart.

When I was a little girl she took care of me. I was a rough and tumble tomboy. My childhood was spent making mud pies, playing in the dirt, and climbing the Mimosa trees with their pink fluffy blooms that reminded me of the trees in ‘The Lorax.’ She used to strip me down to my skivvies and wash my clothes before my mother would pick me up. (She always complained about me getting dirty.)

This is a picture of me with my grandparents (left) and here I’m a clown for Halloween (right). Little did they know I was terrified of clowns which was only made worse by Stephen King’s book, It. “They all float down here.”


 

Granted, it probably wasn't the most appropriate pass time but she used to let me drink coffee in the morning with her and read the newspaper to me. She also read the classic fables, fairy tales, and a Brothers Grimm assortment from a big yellow book. My grandmother instilled in me a love of reading and writing that I strive to pass on to my daughter. This is a picture of me reading to my daughter, Autumn, from the very same book my grandmother used to read to me (right). The book is so old I have it reserved only for me to read to her. Its pages are yellow, its spine is weak, and the book is crumbling.

Me reading



Me Reading to My Daughter, Autumn














Autumn was born with a heart murmur that hopefully is just an innocent flow murmur that she will outgrow. My husband’s brother, Billy, was born with a heart murmur. This year when he died after several heart attacks and a lengthy struggle, I watched my mother in-law and my husband bear his loss with tremendous strain. The week after Billy died we took a break from our typical routine and watched a ton of comedies. That week was filled with stand-up comedy and a lot of Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan movies including Wanderlust and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, just to name a few.

Everyone has their own unique way of dealing with death.

I do attend church. In recent years, only because I have children and I feel it’s important that they have a moral compass to guide them through the difficult choices they will face throughout their lives. Although, I’m not an overly religious person I am very spiritual. I believe that the people we love are in a better place where they are no longer suffering. The best way to honor them and keep their memories alive is to remember the good times. They’re looking down on us and they don’t want to see us to feel sad.

Comedy has been proven to have psychological and physiological benefits. Just look at the story of Norman Cousins. In this day and age you have to be very careful about what is construed as medical advice. I created this blog to build awareness regarding heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. But I know I don’t like to be lectured to and I have the attention span of a gnat. In fact, no one likes being lectured to. So I decided to promote preventive measures for heart health with a dose of comedy in the form of a video blog. The articles are deliberately short to keep your attention and the comedy to make it memorable. That way the information is absorbed rather than your eyes gazing over like here:


I decided on a poetry anthology after reading this article. Maybe it’s a tough sell. The idea that “If poetry is dead, we are in the next ward over, wheezing noisily, with our family gathered around looking concerned and asking about our stereos,” really struck a chord with me. When I first started writing I dabbled in poetry and then graduated to short stories. I’m so long winded (just ask my husband) that now I write genre fiction. My first attempt at poetry since high school actually produced a very ghastly result that resembled one of the reanimated corpses from the Walking Dead. If poetry is a dying art form I damn near slaughtered it.

Poems can still make a change. I do believe that. I've been lucky that I have reached out to some incredible writers who have agreed to be featured in an anthology that will make a change. Its proceeds will go to benefit the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Association.

You can make a difference too. When this anthology is released in February 2014 in celebration of American Heart month please support heart health by purchasing a copy. In the meantime, there is merchandise you can purchase to advertise for us and its profits go toward the anthology’s production and marketing costs. I will also be adding an Indiegogo campaign which you can make a tax deductible donation.

Also, I have recently added a call for guest bloggers. If you are a victim of a heart attack, stroke, or Alzheimer's, or know individuals or family members with these experiences, share your stories on this blog. I believe that your message and experience are powerful instruments in the prevention and eradication of heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. It can be cathartic but be real, be sincere, and don’t forget to laugh! “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” –Robert Frost

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