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Pursuing Hope - A Journey From Sorrow to Triumph
Pursuing Hope - A Journey From Sorrow to Triumph
$12.95
Paperback
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • 9781453625798
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Ric gives an overview of the book:

A compelling novel based on true events Frightened and confused, Rick faces an uncertain future.  Abandoned at an orphanage, by his narcissistic mother, Rick soon learns the hidden secrets of Shady Acres.  Betrayed, abused and neglected, he endures untold sorrow from his malevolent housemother.   Joyfully reunited with his family, he soon discovers a new level of fear.  Forced to watch his mother’s brutal beating, his stepfather soon turns his rage upon him.  Hardened by the street and physical abuse, Rick must use his instincts to survive.   Maturing into manhood he discovers unconditional love and is led to faith and ultimate healing. 
Read full overview »

A compelling novel based on true events

Frightened and confused, Rick faces an uncertain future.  Abandoned at an orphanage, by his narcissistic mother, Rick soon learns the hidden secrets of Shady Acres.  Betrayed, abused and neglected, he endures untold sorrow from his malevolent housemother.  

Joyfully reunited with his family, he soon discovers a new level of fear.  Forced to watch his mother’s brutal beating, his stepfather soon turns his rage upon him.  Hardened by the street and physical abuse, Rick must use his instincts to survive.  

Maturing into manhood he discovers unconditional love and is led to faith and ultimate healing. 

Read an excerpt »

1

 

The nightmares had grown more intense, and were intruding into his thoughts.  Why now, he wondered, why after all this time?

Frustrated, Rick rubbed his neck.

“What’s wrong with me?” he whispered

“Honey, what’s the matter?” Mary asked, interrupting his thoughts. The empathy in her voice was comforting.   

“Nothing Babe, I’m fine,” he replied without conviction.  Her presence made this trip bearable.  Squeezing her hand, he said softly, “I love you.”

It was a typical humid summer day in Cincinnati.  Rick was tired at the end of a three hundred mile trip from Pittsburgh.  Traffic was heavy for one o'clock in the afternoon and moving at a snail's pace along I-71 south.    He was suffocating in the heat.  Mary had suggested getting the air conditioner repaired, now Rick wished he had listened. What had the weather report said, ninety plus degrees?  With the humidity it felt like one-hundred ninety.  Using his shirttail he wiped the sweat from his eyes.  Well, he thought, the trip really hadn’t been that bad until we reached the outskirts of the Queen City.

Rick had moved to Pittsburgh fifteen years earlier.  He always considered it an attractive city, but nothing could compare to Cincy.  It would always be home.  Regrettably, he knew he would never return there to live.  

He was tense and clenched his hands nervously on the steering wheel.  The traffic jam wasn’t helping him remain calm.  Reaching for the tuning knob, he found an easy listening station.  A Billy Joel song was playing.  He began to sing along and the distraction helped him relax.

He would never have made this trip if his brother, Joe, had not made him feel guilty for staying away so long.  Rick kept himself busy and could have easily found an excuse for not visiting.  He knew his hectic schedule was his way of not dealing with the past.  A past recently brought into sharp focus by certain uncontrollable events.  This trip would meet two deferred needs.  He would visit Joe and finally face the pain of his troubled past.

Oh well, he thought, I’ll enjoy myself once I stay at Joe’s, but for now, first things first.  Before coming to the graveyard they had dropped off their children at Joe’s.  They had three children, Jonathan who was thirteen, Christina age twelve, and Elizabeth who was ten years old.  Joe had agreed to watch them while they went to the cemetery to see Emma’s final resting place.

Rick didn’t particularly miss Emma.  He felt absolutely nothing when she had died.  His emotionally neutral response to her death was unsettling.  A year later, that guilt still persisted.  After all, he told himself, she is your mother and it isn’t normal to treat her loss as the death of a stranger.

Rick had been so deep in thought he almost missed his exit.  He hurriedly put on the turn signal and took the Harrison Avenue off-ramp.  Again he found himself in a snarl of vehicles.  He couldn’t really remember if traffic had been this bad when he lived here.  

Glancing over at his wife, Rick smiled.  How had she fallen asleep in this heat? He mused.  

She had been the best thing to enter his life.  She was pretty, sweet, compassionate and a good listener, and always made him feel cherished.  Mary, a farmer's daughter from northern Michigan, had a smile that could melt your heart and a personality to match.  Rick’s heart had been stolen by that smile.  Her  sincerity and gentleness made her irresistible.   He knew the moment he saw her that they would be married.  The memory of their first meeting made the knot in his stomach uncoil.  For the first time, having reached Cincinnati, he felt himself relax. 

About half a block ahead he saw the entrance to the cemetery and immediately the uneasiness returned.  The dread in the pit of his stomach was so strong he thought he would have a panic attack.  

Rick turned right and passed under the cemetery's ornate arches and followed the narrow road snaking to the right.  Emma was buried in the new section.  He continued on slowly and couldn’t help noticing the ornate shrines standing like sentinels over the remains of the dead, whose memories they blessed.

Ordinarily, Rick would have enjoyed a leisurely trip through a cemetery. He liked looking at the tombstones and monuments and speculating about the lives of the deceased. Today he wondered if some of the inscriptions such as Loving Mother, Loving Father, Daughter, or Son, belied the truth and hid the hellish secrets of brutality, abuse, and neglect.  Why should death hide the truth? Why protect those who existed only to hurt and control? Maybe, he thought, these epitaphs' weren’t designed to protect the dead, but the living who had to carry a legacy of darkness in their hearts.

At long last he reached the stretch of ground where Emma was laid to rest.  The newer section did not have the character of the old.  The headstones sat at or below ground level so the caretakers could mow over them.  The contrast between the two sections only added to Rick’s anxiety, though he really couldn’t say why.

He sat in the minivan for some time trying to muster the courage to move.  By then Mary was awake and quietly took his hand.  Gazing into her eyes he saw understanding and knew that, in her own way, she suffered with him.  Recognizing that seemed to strengthen him.  

Without uttering a word, he opened the door and stepped onto the pavement.  Stiff from the long trip, he stretched and took a deep breath of steamy air.  His heart was pounding and he felt weak in the knees.  For a moment he almost changed his mind.  He nervously chuckled to himself about his fear to confront a dead woman.  Alive, Emma had always been intimidating and for him, that had not changed with her death.

She had been buried, as she requested, in a beautiful area surrounded by trees.  He started up the slope of the knoll where she rested. He was thankful for the trees offering refuge from the sun.  Emma was laid to rest next to her fourth husband, or was it her fifth?  Rick couldn’t remember.  He had lost track long ago.

Rick stood quietly under a stand of maple trees. Beads of perspiration formed on his balding head and salty rivulets cut tracks down the side of his face.  He stared at the stone before him and thoughtfully read its inscription:

 

Beloved Mother

Emma Barnes

Born: May 20, 1921  Died: December 22, 1995

 

For months he had struggled with the memories of his mother. Standing before her grave, his mind raced back to a past long buried and presumed forgotten.

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