In early September I had the pleasure of welcoming a book I midwifed into the world. This is one of the great moments in the life of a personal historian. How often do any of us get to see the tangible result of months of labor meet the people it was intended for?
On September 6 I attended the annual Farm Party of the Adams-Jelle family and friends, which this year included celebration of a freshly-published book of letters written of Pat Adams, carefully assembled and edited by Pat’s oldest daughter Cate Adams and close friend Carole Milks Turner. I published Fireflies at Twilight: Letters from Pat Adams through my company, First Person Productions, helping Carole and Cate with each decision and technical step from manuscript to launch. We’re now working on marketing, because we feel this book will find its place in the larger world.
A prolific correspondent and true Aquarian-age woman, Pat Adams lived the last 15 years of her life with cancer, capturing her courage and vivacity in her remarkable letters, emails, and journal entries written from her farm in Southern Wisconsin and her cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Relatives and friends as far away as Florida and California saved her correspondence over the years, savoring her wry humor and insights about everyday life, her love for her family and friends, and her appreciation of the natural world. As death approached, an immediacy and determination entered her emails and letters. Reading Fireflies at Twilight: Letters from Pat Adams is a way to draw life lessons from a wise woman and enjoy again the simple things that matter: nature, life’s passages, and of course, the lost art of letter writing.
“This book is amazingly warming,” wrote the first reviewer on Amazon.com (and a stranger to the Adams clan). “Reading someone else’s thoughts and feelings, from the little things most don’t take time to enjoy, to the huge things like dealing with cancer. Absolutely a great, inspiring read! Highly recommended!” (Carla Grant, September 12, 2014).
After Pat’s death, Cate and Carole chose to compile a selection of her correspondence for family, friends, and others who seek inspiration for living life to its fullest. “Reading through Pat’s letters, we howled with laughter and were twisted by grief, sometimes simultaneously. Fueled by our roller-coaster emotions, we kept going,” wrote the editors in their Acknowledgments.
Pat Adams died on March 14, 2011. Fireflies at Twilight: Letters from Pat Adams was published August 15, 2014. The book is available on Amazon.com.
The Farm Party featured readings from the book by a few of Pat’s close friends and relatives–until tears and laughter took over, and we all went back to the business of living.
I’m deeply grateful to earn my living as a personal historian. One of the rewards is definitely this–enjoying food, drink, and family with my clients at the successful completion of their projects.