Four engaging lives remembered

Nussbaum - An H Of A LifeTom Nussbaum’s book An “H” of a Life is a witty, heartfelt account of his life as a special education instructor, a Jew, and a politically active gay man.  The “H” in the title is a nod to the book’s three sections: Hebe, Homo, and Hero.  The first of these begins, literally, with the author’s.own beginning:

“In hindsight, I should have known that my mother was a psychologically complex, complicated, and contradictory woman even before we were officially introduced.  After all, she was a woman whose Jewish ancestry and faith were deeply important to her but who gave birth to her first-born, a son, me, in a Catholic hospital.  I was doomed from the start, it appears, to face conflict and contradiction in my self-image and relationship with my mother.”

Find the book here on Amazon.

Paul - The Secret Wife

Life had a long and rocky start for Janice Campell Paul, and for most of it the prospect of missionary service in Asia was one of the furthest things from her mind.  Her book The Secret Wife recounts how she survived an abusive first marriage only to be stricken during her second marriage with a debilitating case of fibromyalgia that left her wheelchair-bound.  Old friends began to fall away and Janice was in her fifties when her second husband separated from her.

She began chatting online with a man in India, and despite their cultural and age differences – he was in his twenties – the two fell in love. Janice wanted desperately to be with him, but the reality of her illness posed an insurmountable obstacle. At one point she became so despondent that she nearly slit her wrists.

One day at a church worship service she felt a tingling in her feet.  She thought it at first just another symptom of her illness, but she was moved to stand and then, to her surprise, found herself able to walk for the first time in years.  She had no doubt that she had been spontaneously healed, and her religious faith deepened.

Once back on her feet, she traveled to India and married her Indian boyfriend. Their joy, however, turned to fear when she and her new husband were forced to flee to Nepal to escape an honor killing.

This is one of those “you can’t make this stuff up” accounts of an incredible life.

Find the book here on Amazon.

White - Watch Out For TopesHelen Murray White’s Watch Out For Topes is a memoir about travels across Mexico with her husband. It’s a collection of short stories that joyfully unwrap tidbits of Mexican culture.

It’s also an engaging tale of life in Mexico when White and her husband first visited in 1968:

Back in those early days the main roads were two-lane highways with no shoulders, few centerline markings, and no road signs.  Just before crossing the border we purchased Sanborn car insurance and received their road guide.   Not only was the guide necessary to avoid calamities, but it was entertaining, as well, telling us what to look for as we rounded the next curve.  Mr. Sanborn wrote that there would be a burro on the next hill and, yes, it was standing there when we passed.  There really was a Mr. Sanborn; we met him once at a Holiday Inn in Guadalajara.

Find the book here on Amazon.

Rambo - Let My Record ReflectJim Rambo is a retired prosecutor for the Attorney General of Delaware, but his book Let My Record  Reflect quickly dispels stereotypes of lawyers as humorless and long-winded, and the business of law enforcement as cold and unsympathetic.

This book is a collection of reminiscences, anecdotes and poetry that begin with Rambo’s childhood in Wilmington, Delaware in the 1940’s and ’50’s and end with his retirement to the Lake Chapala area.  It is, by Rambo’s own description, a “casual read.”

The courtroom vignettes dispel any preconceptions of legal proceedings as stiff judicial decorum wrapped up in monotonous monologues, and few will be able to read them without a smile.

There are, however, some notable pieces which speak to a life that has not been all fun and games.  Two of the author’s poems address the experience of Vietnam veterans.One titled “A Warrior’s Worry” begins:

The President came to visit last week.
He’s been with me before
And like millions of others who stop by
He doesn’t even know my name.

They pay homage without knowledge
Of me, the man, a devoted husband, once skin and bones.
They prefer now not to know.
It’s easier that way.

No longer a man of ambition, appetites and loves,
I’m a symbol to be honored and cherished instead
As the son of all mothers and fathers, the golden ones
Whose sons’ blood was shed freely from our nation’s veins….

Another titled “Dead Or Alive, Hill 175” begins:

How did I get here? How stupid am I?
I wondered as I heard my buddies cry
Out in the highlands, in Vietnam
The wounded scream “morphine!” Others sob “Mom!”

Sure as hell I’m out here to die
Too late to question when or why.
Men who don’t know me, trying to kill me
Won’t later question “Who the hell was he?”

The crushing noise of bullets and mortar
Suffocate efforts at thought, at order.
My sad life depends on the fetal position
Screw the Marines and this friggin’ mission….

There’s also a story about a 22-year-old whose partner in burglary killed a woman in a 1977 robbery gone sideways, and was tried as an accomplice to the murder.  The young man stubbornly dismissed advice to accept a plea bargain carrying an 11 year sentence and was convicted and sentenced to life.

Rambo was at the time co-counsel for his defense, and in the years which followed spoke regularly with the convict by phone and visited him in jail.  As time passed, he witnessed a metamorphosis marked by the young man’s acceptance of his responsibility for the crime, and efforts to improve himself as a person while behind bars.

It was thirty years later before the young man’s case would come  before the parole board for the first time and Rambo, now a prosecutor for most of that time, nonetheless went to bat for his former client, relentlessly pursuing the case to the highest levels well into his own retirement .  It’s a heartbreaking tale of blind justice, but also a testament to the soul of man who for much of his life was tasked with enforcing law and order, but never lost his capacity for compassion.

Find the book here on Amazon.

Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.

(Posted by Antonio Ramblés)

LCS acknowledgement