And they didn’t live Happily ever after … An Alzheimer Story

Yesterday our community in Vernon, British Columbia, observed a Walk for Alzheimer Research and for those who are living with Alzheimer Disease and their families. The Ukeleles for Fun band for which I usually play percussion performed for the walkers as they rounded the arena track. I wasn’t able to participate this year as I had an important commitment at my church, but I was there in spirit. I also contribute regularly to the Alzheimer Society’s research campaign and have been doing so for many years. I urge everyone to consider regular donations of whatever they can afford to Alzheimer research. The main reason I am so committed to this worthy cause is that my late husband, Gus Johannesson, had early onset AD, was diagnosed at age 58 and died four years later. At the time of his diagnosis our children were 12 and 17 years’ old. Now my present husband, has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and is getting some help from an Alzheimer drug that wasn’t available when Gus needed it back in 1992. It is not a cure, but can hold off many of the complications from AD for a length of time. I’m hoping and praying that a cure may be found in the near future. In remembrance of Gus, I am sharing a copy of the letter that Alzheimer Manitoba asked me to write for their 1994 campaign.

Gayle Moore-Morrans


 

Alzheimer   Manitoba     

Johannessons at Pishew Falls MB 1988

And they didn’t live Happily ever after . . .

November 7, 1994

Dear Friends,

This September my husband Gus turned sixty. We wanted to celebrate as many families do, but the plans for our party were a bit different. His 60th “Toast and Roast” became the retirement party he never had and an affirmation of what he has meant to his family and friends while he is still able to appreciate it.

On the day of festivities we presented him with a book of remembrances gathered from friends and relatives around the world. This book is a tribute to Gus’s life as well as a tool for memory as he copes with his illness.

Two years ago Gus was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. I can’t say that our lives immediately changed. The disease doesn’t change your life overnight, but has over a number of years changed every aspect of our lives. To date, the cause of AD is unknown, there is neither cure nor definite treatment; it is progressive and will eventually be terminal.

It is incredible the emotional upheaval we all have been through these past years. All four of us have had counselling and hope that it remains available whenever we need it. The family has found comfort, relief, professional information and fellowship in support groups for adult caregivers, a children’s support group, the early stage support group, numerous educational sessions, and from Alzheimer staff and volunteers.

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba has been able to provide these services because of people like you. I am happy to have this opportunity to personally thank you and let you hear firsthand how meaningful your help is for my family and many others.

It took a long time to really recognize that something serious was happening as Gus has always been a bit of the “absent-mined professor” type and we just figured he was getting more-so with age. This is not the situation. A man admired for his keen mind, having studied at the doctoral level in systematic theology has now forgotten how to tie a tie or manage the simple task of handling a sandwich. In happier days Gus was a Lutheran pastor giving support and guidance to others. Today he is on the receiving end.

Alzheimer Disease attacks the whole family. We are all hurting, angry, frustrated, scared; dealing with a tremendous loss.

Your roles change. I have had to become in as many ways as possible mother and father to my children and husband, directing all my energies outside of the workplace to the family. The children and I have become caregivers, not easy for an adult, let alone a twelve-year-old and seventeen-year-old. A caregiver’s day is often referred to as the “36-hour day.” That is how we live, each and every day.

As is typical with early AD, symptoms come and go resulting in good and bad days. So far Gus’s skills that are totally gone are writing, public speaking, driving, anything mathematical, and many deductive reasoning processes.

We thank God for the good days, for the patience that we are learning, for on-going medical research, for the help offered by the Alzheimer Society and most of all, for the prayers, love, help and support of family and friends.

Our family includes you when we say “Friends.” You probably don’t know us personally, but as a supporter of the Alzheimer Society you help make each and every day a little bit brighter, a little bit easier.

Once again, thank you for making our lives happier. Please continue your needed support. It is your caring and generosity that makes the difference!

With our sincere appreciation,

Gayle Johannesson

P.S. The number of families coping with the devastating reality of Alzheimer Disease is expected to at least double in the next decade.

 

ANNOUNCING PUBLICATION OF OUR LATEST BOOK: JAKE, LITTLE JIMMY & BIG LOUIE

 

 

JLJBL Book Cover

Finally the day has arrived to announce that our latest book is now available for order. We are proud of the product and hope many of you will be anxious to read it. We think adults will enjoy the book as much as children or teenagers will.  The book is written on the pre-teen reading level. You can order a copy online at the following link: https://www.createspace.com/5114278.

Signed copies will also be available from the authors at a Book Launch and subsequent book readings in Vernon, British Columbia, probably in the month of February.

Sometime in February 2015 the book should also be available for order online through amazon or from book stores. Unless you want to take advantage of free postage through amazon by placing an order at a minimum of $25, we request that you place your order through Create Space as listed above as we get a larger royalty and you receive the book at the same price and same shipping and handling fees as through other methods of online ordering.

For those who want to read the book in an e-book format, we will be listing it on amazon as a Kindle book shortly.

Below is the information from the book’s back cover:

Has a pet ever held a special place in your heart?

Though written for children, this book will appeal to pet lovers of all ages. It tells the story of Jake, an 11-year-old boy who adopts Little Jimmy, a budgie bird, born without wings. Jake learns to help Little Jimmy live and feel like a very special bird.

Later, a rescued baby chick is literally dumped into Jake’s hands. “Thing,” as Jake originally names him, soon insists on his own name, becoming “Louie.” Eventually Big Louie grows into a huge and very smart raven. Though he didn’t want the raven at first, Jake soon realizes that Big Louie has become an important part of the family who comes to the rescue when Little Jimmy gets into dangerous situations. One adventure follows another and the three become fast friends who really love each other.

Author Ian Moore-Morrans had ample experience raising his own Jimmy, a cockatiel, from newly-hatched to adulthood. Ian has used that knowledge in portraying realistic characterizations of both birds, including intelligence, comic actions, dependence and independence, plus an ability to “talk” and a knack for finding a very special place within a family.

Co-author Gayle Moore-Morrans, also Ian’s wife and editor, has added her own touch to the story, giving a spiritual dimension to Jake’s family and his decisions in caring for and loving his pets.

For that special “kid’s touch,” Ian and Gayle invited two of their great-grandchildren to collaborate on Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie. Great-grandson Leland German was their age-appropriate consultant and Great-granddaughter Hannah German served as the illustrator. They are pictured at the top of the following collage.

Wee Yins' collage-2014

TO OUR ‘WEE YINS’

Our book,” Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie,” is dedicated to the eleven children in our lives, three of them born since we first started blogging a draft of the book  almost two years ago. They are our youngsters (or “wee yins,” as Ian would call them in his Scottish vernacular).

In the center is a picture of Ian signing a stack of his books and one of Gayle busy at one of her Location Writing sessions. We are surrounded by photos of these very special children who make up our blended family: from top left and clockwise, Leland, Hannah, Logan, Eva, Gustav, Haylee, Brayden, Alex, Lexi, Madison and Caleigh. We love them all!

 

 

THE CHRISTMAS STORY ACCORDING TO GWYNNE

THE CHRISTMAS STORY ACCORDING TO GWYNNE

 

“Last year it was Ian’s turn to share some excerpts from his book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, about his “non-Christmases” as a child as well as a very special New Year’s Eve in Scotland when his prematurely-born daughter’s life was saved by a bottle of Scotch whisky.

This year it is Gayle’s turn to share some of her holiday writings. She has been super-busy these last months putting the final touches on our next-to-be-published book, Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie, plus rehearsing for the various musical groups she belongs to and then singing in their concerts or caroling at seniors’ or nursing homes and at Silver Star Mountain Village. Those duties are winding down now and so she has found time to offer her special holiday gift to readers, a play entitled “The Christmas Story According to Gwynne.”

This play originated in 1981 when Gayle, her late husband Gus and daughter Gwynne were living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Gus was serving as a Lutheran pastor to a German parish and Gayle was enjoying her role as homemaker and mother. Their daughter Gwynne was a precocious four-year-old who kept her mother hopping. She talked almost non-stop in what her parents called “Gerglish,” a unique combination of German and English. Mama usually spoke English with her and Papa almost always spoke German with her; thus Gwynne understood both languages, spoke pretty good German but found it hard to express herself totally in English. She loved to have books read to her in either language and soaked up knowledge like a sponge. When the spontaneous play that follows began, Gayle realized that Gwynne had grasped the main aspects of the Christmas story but had added some unique twists to relate them to her own life and understanding. That evening, when Gayle related the story in great detail to Gus, he encouraged her to write it all down before the nuances of the story faded from her memory. She did so that very evening. To aid in the reader’s understanding, however, she “translated” everything into English. Other than that, however, the story is as exact to how it actually played out as Gayle’s memory could make it. The drawings we include with this story are Gwynne’s, drawn at her mother’s urging in the days following the play’s inception. We are also including a photo of Gwynne at age 4 dressed as St. Lucia, prepared to make the rounds of our apartment house to bring Saffronsbrod and Pepparkakor (Swedish treats) to our neighbours on the morning of St. Lucia Day, December 13th. That date is the start of the Swedish Christmas season and Gayle’s family heritage on her mother’s side is Swedish. (Yes, those are real lighted candles on the Lucia crown she is wearing! Because of that, Gwynne did this duty rather reluctantly.)

Gwynne as Lucia - age 4

Now, many years later, Gwynne lives in Norway, with her Norwegian husband, their three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. She is employed as a teacher/librarian in a British International School, where they also celebrate St. Lucia Day. As an adult, Gwynne continues to nurture her unique imagination, teaches Sunday School, loves to play with and read to her children and has a house full of more books, toys and craft projects than one can imagine.

 

The Christmas Story According to Gwynne

By Gayle and Gwynne Johannesson, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Reprinted from a 1981 Johannesson Christmas letter and later from Esprit, the magazine of Evangelical Lutheran Women, November/December 1993 issue. Copyright © 1981 Gayle Johannesson; 2014 © Gayle Moore-Morrans.

 

Characters:

Gwynne (G) who also plays the Angel, Joseph, Pastor, and King Herod (in turn)

Mama (M) who also plays Mary, Joseph, Innkeeper (in turn)

Scene:

Gwynne, age 4, a budding actor, plays while Mama sews. Since early in Advent she has become fascinated with the Christmas story, has had it read and told to her, has seen it in pictures and manger scenes, has sung of it and heard it sung—at home, in church, in kindergarten, on television and at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Now she wants to act it out—in her own unique way.

INTRODUCTION

G: Mama, let’s play “When Jesus was a Little Baby.” I’ll be the angel and you be Mary. (Exits the room in which Mama is sewing; re-enters, flapping arms.)

 

SCENE 1 – Mary’s garden, Nazareth

G: Fly, fly, fly. (pause) Hi, Mary!

Mary for Christmas Story

M: Hello! Who are you?

G: I’m the angel. I have good news for you. God sent me to tell you you’re going to have a baby in your tummy and he’s going to be the Messiah and save everyone from their sins. I think you better name him Jesus.

M: What wonderful news! You tell God I’m very happy to be chosen to be Jesus’ mother and I’m ready to do whatever God says.

G: Okay. ‘Bye now. Fly, fly, fly. (Exits, flapping arms.) (aside) Now you be Jofes. I’m still the angel.

 

SCENE 2 – Joseph’s home, Nazareth

Mr

G: (Enters, flapping arms.) Fly, fly, fly. Hey, Jofes, wake up! I’ve got good news for you. God is giving Mary a baby in her tummy and then you have to both go to Bethlehem to be counted. The baby’s name is Jesus and he’s going to be the Messiah and save you from your sins.

M:  That’s great! I’ll get ready to travel right away.

G: Bye. Fly, fly, fly. (Exits) (aside) Now you’re Mary and I’m Jofes.

 

SCENE 3 – Road to Bethlehem

G: Don’t worry Mary; we’re going to soon be in Bethlehem:

M: I hope so, Joseph. I’m very tired and I think the donkey is, too. Besides that, I think it’s soon time for the baby to be born.

G: Look, Mary; there’s Bethlehem: Let’s find a hotel room: (aside) Now you be the hotelman.

G: Knock, knock. Do you have room for us?

M: No, I’m sorry. We are all full.

G: All the hotels are full? Can’t you please find us some room?

M: Well, I have a stable in back where the animals stay. There’s an empty clean stall if you don’t mind sleeping on hay.

G: Well, is it quiet? We’re going to have a baby, you know; so it’s got to be quiet.

M: Oh, yes. There’s only one old cow and a sheep and two lambs and they don’t make much noise.

G: Good. Come on, Mary. Let’s go. (aside) Now you’re Mary again.

 

SCENE 4 – Bethlehem stable

G: I’ll fix up a bed for us in the hay. (pause) Oh, oh. We’ve got a problem.

M: What’s wrong?

G: There’s no phone.

Mama: Now Gwynne. Don’t you remember, when Jesus lived on earth it was many years ago and they didn’t have telephones. Anyway, why do you need a telephone?

Gwynne: Well, for heaven’s sake, Mama, we’ve got to call a pastor. I just remembered Jofes and Mary didn’t get married. They’re going to have a baby soon so they better get married!

Mama: Can’t you get a pastor in Bethlehem?

Gwynne: Nope. He’s far away. Well, if there isn’t any phone then we can’t play. (pause) I know—the angel can get a phone. (Exits and enters again, flapping arms.)

M: Oh, Mr. Angel, can you get us a phone so we can call a pastor to marry us before our baby is born?

G: Sure. (Exits and re-enters with phone.) Now I’m Jofes.

G: Ring, ring, ring. Hello, Pastor Johannesson? Can you come and marry us? We’re going to have a baby soon. You can find us easy, just follow the star and when it stops we’re in the red house.

Pastor J for Christmas Story

(Angel flies out, removing telephone. Re-enters as pastor, performs ceremony while M. plays Mary and Joseph in turn. G. exits and re-enters as Joseph. Fixes up a bed for Mary in the hay, settles donkey (hee-haws), talks to cow (moos) and sheep (baas). G. exits and re-enters with doll in cradle.)

 

SCENE 5 – Next morning, Bethlehem

G: Mary, wake up. Look at the nice manger I made for the baby you had in your tummy. Let’s name him Jesus. You wrap him up and I’ll put him in bed.

M: There, he’s sleeping now. Say, do you hear voices outside? It sounds like shepherds talking and they say an angel choir told them to come to see our baby.

G: Yes, and listen to the song they’re singing.

G&M: (singing) Glo-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-oria! Glory to God in the highest!

manger scene for Christmas story

G: Come on in. (Extends hand to imaginary shepherds.) You can see the baby, but be quiet—cuz he’s sleeping. (Gently strokes the doll’s cheek.)  Isn’t he cute? He’s the Messiah and is going to save you from your sins.

Gwynne: Oh no, no, no! (Runs from room, prances around in hallway.) Get that baby out of here! I don’t want a boy baby; I want a girl baby!

Mama: What’s wrong now? Don’t you want to play anymore?

King Herod for Christmas Story

Gwynne: Oh, Mama, can’t you see? I’m the wicked king. I’m going to throw all the babies in the river. (Exits, re-enters flapping arms.)

G: You’re going to have to get out of here and go to Egypt for a while. It’s a long trip so you better pack lots of things. You can have picnics on the way. I’ll tell you when the wicked king is dead so you can come back. Don’t worry; God will take care of you and I’ll get things ready. (Exits, flapping arms.)

 

SCENE  6 – Somewhere in Egypt

(G: enters pulling a wagon loaded with dishes, doll clothes, tablecloth, cookies, bananas and a pillow.)

G: Now we’re in the camper. (Spreads tablecloth on floor, sets out dishes and food. Sits down with doll on lap.) You’re getting to be a big boy, Jesus. Here, have a cookie. (Turns to Mary) Isn’t it fun to be camping?

M: Yes, it’s nice here; but I’ll be glad when we can go home to Nazareth.

G: Oh, don’t worry. The old wicked king should be dead soon. Hey, I think I hear the angel. (Exits, re-enters flapping arms.)

G: Fly, fly, fly. That wicked king is dead, so you can come back. Your baby’s safe now. (pause) Say, Jesus sure is a big boy now. That’s a long trip and he’ll be too heavy to carry. I know; I’ll help you. You two take the donkey back and Jesus can fly with me. (Exits, flapping one arm and carrying doll under the other.)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

BEQUEATHING OUR HEIRLOOMS – A BLENDED FAMILY’S SOLUTION AND AN AUTHOR’S SOLUTION

Heirloom bone 001

*Heirloom = (1) Any piece of property that goes to an heir as part of an estate; or

(2) Any treasured possession handed down from generation to generation.

             (* from New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition)

We hope to avoid any  haggling over the “heirloom bones” by our descendents after we have passed away. Just reading about what is going on now in South Africa over the literal bones of Mandela’s relatives and, probably, over Mandela’s eventual burial place gives us the creeps. That news has been timely as we’ve immersed ourselves in research and discussions about end-of-life decisions this past month. Being a blended family brings some unique considerations to the fore. Both of us were previously widowed after long first marriages and have now been married to each other for almost ten years. At 70 and 81 years of age, having both experienced some serious health crises in the last several years, we found that it was time to re-do our wills and also to complete Enduring Powers of Attorney (granting financial control to a trustee if we became incapable of handling our affairs) and Representative Agreements (the name for “living wills” or end-of-life directives in our province of British Columbia).

This brings up a special problem that many blended families face, especially those of us who had a second marriage later in life, have grown children (grandchildren and even great-grandchildren) from our previous marriages and have brought a significant amount of “items” into our joined household from our previous households.  What happens to those items we each brought into the marriage, especially those items that one would consider a family heirloom? Normally, if one spouse dies, everything remains with the surviving spouse. However, for us, we needed to consider what would happen to the “Morrans family items” for instance, if Ian should die and Gayle survive? Or what would happen to the “Johannesson family items” if Gayle should die and Ian survive? These items do not have a great financial value; however, we and our families attach a great deal of sentimental value to them. Our solution was to specify in our wills that when each of us dies, those items that were brought into our marriage from the previous marriage be given to our own children from that marriage at the time of our death and not be retained by the surviving spouse. We feel that can avoid potential problems for all parties in the future.

A second problem was what to do about copyrights that belong to an author of published or unpublished works when that author dies. Thirdly, because Gayle has specific religious concerns, she also wanted to completely plan out her funeral and we both wanted to leave specific instructions for disposal of our bodies. We will share our solutions to the blended family problem first.

When we married in September 2003, Ian had been retired for several years but Gayle was still working, not yet having reached retirement age. She continued to work until taking an early retirement in July 2004. We had sold Ian’s house just after our marriage and Ian had moved into Gayle’s house with some of his furniture and household items but had given a lot of such items to his family members who lived in the same town. We had bought a large motor home and planned to drive it to Mexico to see if we wanted to retire there permanently. Thus, we decided to sell most of the furniture and household items, retaining those most important to us which we put into storage, intending to have it sent to Mexico if we decided to stay there permanently. After a year we decided that we preferred to return to Canada but to another province where the weather was more desirable. It took another year and a half to get organized, put our Mexican house up for sale and finally sell it. Now, here we are in British Columbia with a house full of “his”, “hers” and “our” stuff. We wanted to be sure that the “his” and “hers” stuff would eventually be given to “his” or “her” appropriate family members.

Gayle worked for several long days going through everything and making two lists of the appropriate items. Then we worked together to designate how the items would be divided amongst our various family members.

This is the wording with which we began our list:

LIST OF ARTICLES AND BENEFICIARIES* – For Wills of Gayle & Ian Moore-Morrans
*This is an addendum to the Wills of Gayle Irene Moore-Morrans and Ian
Moore-Morrans. We are listing only those items that we wish to bequeath 
which we each brought into our marriage in September 2003 from the families
of Gayle Irene Moore Johannesson and Ian Morrans. Any items not listed here 
are to be considered Moore-Morrans estate residue. A list of family members 
to whom we wish to bequeath these items is on page X.

The following headings were listed at the top of each page:

ITEMS          FAMILY  ITEMS               BENEFICIARY         LOCATION
            Johannesson  Morrans

The following categories were used to list the items:

FURNITURE
CARPETS & FLOOR COVERS
HOUSEHOLD LINEN
CLOTHING & SHOES
DISHES, CHINA, FLATWARE, SERVING PIECES
JEWELRY/WATCHES
ARTWORK
HEIRLOOMS
COLLECTIONS (BOOKS, COINS, CDS, DVDS, ETC.)
TOOLS

At the end we listed the designated recipients of each family’s heritage item and their family relationship to us plus their date of birth:

Example:

Daughter of Gayle Moore-Morrans: Jane Ann Doe, neé Johannesson, DOB Jan 00, 1977

On another subject, that of choosing our trustees (for the wills) or attorneys (as our representative is listed for the Enduring Powers of Attorney) or “representative” (for the Representation Agreement), we decided to each list each other as first trustee/attorney/representative and then, if we were unable to act for the other as in the case of death or disability, to name Ian’s son-in-law for him and to name a local friend for Gayle as she has no direct relatives in Canada.

As a proper Lutheran Celebration of Life (funeral) is important to Gayle, she has also added as an addendum to her will complete instructions for such a service plus a service of committal and disposal of her body.

Ian has left the choice of funeral or memorial service and disposal of his body to Gayle, if she survives him, and to one of his daughters should Gayle not survive him.

We both have included in our wills instructions that our bodies be cremated and have designated appropriate urns to be used from Gayle’s vase collection.

As Ian has published a number of works and written a number of others which he hopes to publish, his will designates that all copyrights, including moral rights, to all his published and unpublished works as defined in the Copyright Act, RSC 1985, c D-42, be transferred to Gayle or, if she does not survive him for 30 days, then to his daughters in equal shares or to their children if one or both of his daughters do not survive him. A list of his published and unpublished works is added as an addendum to his will.

We want also to point out a particular blogger who has two very informative sites about end-of-life topics which we have found valuable. Julie Hall’s two sites are:

http://www.estatelady.wordpress.com The Estate Lady Speaks: Compassionate Advice for Dealing with a Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff

http://www.alzheimercaregiver.wordpress.com In the Trenches: The Alzheimer’s Support Blog for Caregivers

SHARING AN AUTHOR INTERVIEW PREPARED FOR “THE AUTHOR SHOW” AUDIO PRESENTATION ON: the authorshow.com

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS prepared for THE AUTHORS SHOW, recorded on Thursday, February 14, 2013 and first aired on March 4, 2013.Cover full size

Interviewer: Don McCauley of The Authors Show, an internationally-acclaimed professional book marketing audio program in which selected authors are interviewed.

Interviewee: Ian Moore-Morrans, Scottish-Canadian author of an autobiography entitled: “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada”

The recorded version is presently being aired for 48 hours (March 4 and 5, 2013). It  will be available on this blog as soon as we receive and upload the MP3 copy. The Authors Show audio version is much shorter and less detailed than these prepared answers; in addition, several of the questions were not asked in the recorded version which very soon can be accessed on-line 24/7 for 12 months. The website is http://theauthorsshow.com. (Access to the audio version of the interview is on the “Non-fiction writers” page.)

I, the interviewee must admit that I became a bit flustered when the interview was taking place and being recorded. Instead of following the carefully prepared answers to the questions which the interviewer had furnished ahead of time, I scrapped my notes and “ad-libbed” the answers. My editor wife, who worked alongside me to formulate the answers and carefully rehearsed me through the scenerio several times beforehand, was a bit disappointed that I didn’t follow the script a bit better. Ah well, listeners will be able to hear my Scottish burr and hopefully understand the sincerity, if not the clarity, in my answers.

Q. Tell us about this book.

A. “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada” is the first volume of my autobiography. It begins with my childhood in Scotland during the 1930s and ‘40s—years of the Great Depression and World War II. I’m certain that my fatherless family was the poorest one in Campbeltown, a small fishing town in the Scottish Highlands. I describe our level of poverty as “abject” meaning “utter, hopeless, miserable, wretched, dismal and horrible.” Four of us lived in a 10-foot-by-10-foot attic room—Mother, Granny, my older brother and me. Life was a constant struggle to find food and keep ourselves warm. Often there was no money for both food and coal so we had to choose between the two.

My schooling was finished when I turned 14. Around that time my mother married a man from Northern Ireland and our lifestyle became a bit better. We moved from the lowliest of slums to a slightly-less-lowly slum. My teenage years were spent working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, joining the Army Cadets and playing in a Salvation Army band—and sometimes quitting the band because I got tired of not being able to go to movies or dancing.

At age 18, I joined the British Royal Air Force and served as an aircraft engine mechanic and bandsman in Britain and Egypt. My time in Egypt coincided with the first rumblings of the Suez Canal crisis and I was one of those unfortunate enlisted men who was ordered to learn how to make decent drinking water from the inaptly named “Sweet Water Canal”—after the Arab workers who had been treating the water for the entire British military force walked off the job.

After I returned to civilian life as a machinist in Scotland, I married and fathered two daughters. Then, I got itchy feet and considered immigrating to Australia. However, encouraged by two of my wife’s relatives who had earlier immigrated to Canada and misled by an unscrupulous Canadian official, my family and I immigrated to Canada in 1965. A promised job didn’t materialize and, naive me soon found out I’d been told a boldfaced lie about how inexpensive it was to buy a house in Canada. Misadventures in finding and keeping jobs and suitable accommodations lead me to conclude that we had only moved “from poverty to poverty.”

Q. Who did you write this book for?

A. For my descendants, friends and anyone who wanted to know what made me tick. My principle reason for writing my autobiography was that I had met so many people on the Canadian side of the Atlantic whose backgrounds were Scottish, Welsh, Irish or whatever, who had no idea who their grandparents or great-grandparents were, what they did or how they lived. Thus I decided that my descendants, friends and even strangers should get to know me, if they so desired.

Several times I had found myself checking out through a grocery counter and spoken a few words to the clerk. Upon hearing my Scottish “burr,” she would invariably ask me if I was Scottish and then tell me that her grandfather (or grandmother) was Scottish. When I asked her where the grandparent was, she would then tell me the relative was dead. When I inquired where in Scotland they came from, she didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about him or her—and that happened more than once. On arriving home one day from a little bit of grocery shopping, I told my wife, “I’m going to write my life story for my descendants to read—they should know who and what their grandfather did while he was alive.”

Q. Is there a central message in the book?

A. Yes, I think so. I’ve found that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty but, in order to do so, one has to have a lot of grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all.

Q.What is the most important idea you share in your book that will add value to the reader’s life?

A. Perhaps it is that one must look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.

Q. If you could compare this book with any book out there we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

A. When I first submitted my manuscript for critique by a few people in my Writer’s Group, several remarked that it reminded them of “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt. I had not even heard of McCourt’s book at the time so quickly bought a copy. They were certainly right  in that we both had appalling early lives of poverty—he in Ireland and me in Scotland. One could also say that we each, in our unique ways, were able to overcome our impoverished beginnings.

Q. Why did you choose the title “From Poverty to Poverty” for your book?

A. When my story started, I described living in appalling poverty in Scotland. Thirty years later I found myself again in poverty because of the misinformation about the opportunities of immigrating to Canada that I received from a Government of Ontario official in Glasgow. (Yes, by the time we had finally settled in Canada, we had a lot more “possessions” but they sure weren’t paid for! We were in debt up to our eyeballs!) I chose the title “From Poverty to Poverty” as I found it a perfect description for my life’s journey from 1932 until my first years in Canada. There I certainly found myself right back into poverty and, to make matters even harder to overcome, I had added three dependents!

Q. For readers of your book who have not experienced poverty in their lives, what one word do you think they would choose to describe your book?

A. (On the audio recording, Ian used the word “horrendous.”) “Eye-opening.” That’s the word my present wife and editor used after she first read my story before we were married almost 10 years ago. She was not brought up in poverty and was astonished and taken aback by all that I had experienced.

Q. You claim this book is an autobiography. Are all the stories in it true and all the characters taken from real life?

A. Yes, all of the stories are true. They, of course, are filtered through my own eyes and my own experiences so another person may interpret happenings from a different perspective. I’ve told of my own observations, experiences and occasionally things told to me by others or that I learned from school or research. In certain instances, I’ve chosen to change the names of people because I felt it necessary to protect their identity or maintain their privacy.

One prime example is the character I’ve chosen to call “Jock Campbel.” (In Britain, “Jock” is perhaps the most popular nickname for a Scotsman, just as “Mick” is for an Irishman.) As far as I know there never was a Jock Campbel who lived in Campbeltown during my time there or any other time. However, when I was a wee lad and our financial situation at home was even more dire than usual, my mother would occasionally ask me to go to that man and ask him to lend her ten shillings. This was about a dollar and a half, but it had a lot more buying power then than now. But before I would go she always cautioned me to wait until he was on his own. There never was any hesitation from him. Out would come his wallet and a ten-shilling note would be handed to me. As far as I know, my brother was never sent on a similar mission and I never thought to discuss it with him or even ask Mother why. That man was an upstanding member of the community and a married man with children. I never thought much about this strange mission until years later when some things my mother said about the man led me to wonder whether he could have been the man who sired me. I deal with that wondering in the sequel to this book which I call “Came to Canada, Eh?”—not yet published but in the editing process.

Q. You describe your early family life as rather disfunctional with no one showing affection to the others. How has this affected your adult role as husband and father?

A. I know my mother and grandmother cared very much for both my brother and me. We lived on welfare and Mother worked at degrading odd jobs on the sly to get a wee bit extra. She also put our hunger ahead of hers when there was little food to share. But none of us showed or spoke of any affection or caring toward the others. When we were growing up my brother was almost always either ignoring me or beating me up until I got big enough to defend myself.

Perhaps Mother and Granny had never been shown affection and didn’t know how to do so. And if they didn’t know how, my brother and I didn’t have a chance to learn by example. I don’t know where I learned it, maybe showing affection was something that just was innate in me and eventually came out when I had my own wife and children. As an adult I’ve made special efforts to tell my family members that I love and honor them and have always been ready and willing to take care of and help them to the best of my ability. I’m pleased to say that my brother and I were able to enjoy a cordial, though distant, friendship later in life.

Q. What role did your membership in the Salvation Army play in your early life?

A. It taught me how to live a respectable and God-fearing life. It gave me a place where I knew I belonged, was respected and valued (although I rebelled off and on at a lot of restrictions it placed on my choices of entertainment). Most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to learn to sing and play several instruments. Because of that I can truly say that my real avocation in life is music-making.

Q. Who influenced your early life the most and why?

A. A man called Jock McMillan. He was the band leader and music instructor at the Salvation Army in my hometown. Along with two of my pals, including his son, George, Jock taught us to read music and to play instruments. I learned to play the trumpet and trombone and spent a lot of time in my youth playing with the Salvation Army brass band. Then, after I joined the Royal Air Force, I played trumpet in military bands wherever I was stationed. For a period of almost sixty years (in Britain, Egypt and later in Canada) I played in military, dance and concert bands as well as in combos. I’ve continued singing Scottish folk songs for various festivals, parties and competitions even into my eighties, although my voice isn’t anywhere near as good now as it used to be.

Q. What was the greatest single decision in your life that started to lift you out of a life of poverty and how did it do so?

A. Quitting my apprenticeship to a drunken, cruel blacksmith and enlisting in the British Royal Air Force. Overnight I had three decent meals a day, a decent-paying job, a bed with sheets on it, all the decent clothing I needed and future prospects. Plus that, I could continue to play in a band and had money left over to send home to my mother to help her out a wee bit.

Q. I understand you use humor in your writing. How does this connect with the tragic circumstances of poverty?

A. Poverty is bad enough. If you can find anything humorous in whatever day-to-day happenings you encounter, then you should celebrate those things. Laughter can elevate you from the depressed hole of poverty – at least a wee bit. If you really look, there are comical aspects to a lot of things, even those that are essentially negative.

Q. What is your favorite humorous story in your book?

A. Soon after we immigrated to Canada, my wife Mary and I were at a dance in Toronto. A group of us were standing and chatting at the edge of the dance floor when I announced that I was going to the bar for a drink. When I returned, a young, good-looking woman put her arm through mine and I understood her to say, “I like the way you roll your arse!” (What we call “arse” in Britain is referred to as “ass” or rear end in North America.) I hesitated a little and looked down at one buttock and then the other, wondering what it was I did with my “arse” that got her attention. It wasn’t until I thoroughly thought about it that I realized that she was saying that she liked the way I rolled my “RRRRs!” I guess she enjoyed the Scottish accent. Boy, what a relief!

Q. You claim that musicianship is integral to your life. How is that reflected in your book?

A. When my wife/editor first read my story, she was struck by how much music was woven into the narrative. She encouraged me to expand on those instances, leading me to quote from songs or to fill out descriptions of the song connections with my own story. For instance, when I am describing my hometown Campbeltown, I mentioned the folk-song made most popular in the ‘60s by Scottish folk-singer Andy Stewart: “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky.” We were unsuccessful in getting permission to quote the whole song in my narrative. So the next best thing was to show how it impacted my life and then paraphrase the verses.

I eventually wrote the following: “As we were growing up, three or four of us boys would go arm in arm down the street singing the first few words—‘Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky’—that’s all we knew at the time. I like to think that Andy (Stewart) heard those few words sometime in Campbeltown and created a song around them. ‘Oh, Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky, Campbeltown Loch, och aye! Campbeltown Loch I wish ye were whisky, I would drink ye dry!’

“The verses cleverly have the singer imagining how nice it would be if the loch were full up to the brim with whisky and he could anchor a yacht in the whisky-filled bay to go in for a nip and a dip ‘by night and by day.’ Clan gatherings would feature wading into the loch with toasts of ‘slainte bva’ (meaning ‘good health’). The only problem would be the police showing up in a boat and shouting, ‘Time, Gentlemen, please!’

“I find this a fitting tongue-in-cheek ode to a town that once boasted of 30 distilleries and still produces at least two very fine brands of single malt whisky – Springbank and Glen Scotia.”

 Q. Your book is permeated with “Scottishness.” Why would someone who has no Scottish connection want to read this book?

A. Lots of people like to read biographies or hear stories of other people’s personal experiences, especially if they are out-of-the-ordinary. It also seems to me that a lot of non-Scots show a curiosity about and interest in Scottish things like tartans, kilts (or what is or isn’t worn under them!), bagpipers, Robbie Burns suppers, Scottish parties called “caleidhs”, Highland games and the like. I hope they’d enjoy a first-hand account of one Scot’s unique experiences. We Scots are known as folksy and sometimes blunt people who put our own colorful slant to our language. I attempt to reflect that in my writing.

Q. I understand that you didn’t begin to write down your stories until you were age 63 and nearing retirement from years spent as a machinist.

A. Yes, I was too busy trying to make a living or playing in some band somewhere so I never took time to sit down to write until I was close to retirement. I quickly realized then that I’d have to learn to type and use a computer if I wanted to get anywhere with my writing. So I bought a used computer and a “teach yourself to type” tape and went to town on it. That’s me, though. I usually get enthusiastic about something new and go whole hog, plunging right in and damn the torpedoes!

Q. Have you always been a storyteller and what made you think you could be a writer?

A. When I tell about my early schooling, I bring up a memory of my English teacher, Miss Sharpe, telling me a couple of times during my school years that I should become a journalist after I finished school. (She had remarked often about the quality of my essays and compositions.) Huh, I thought at the time—‘me a journalist—me who had just about no clothes on my back! What a picture that would be—me in an office with holes in my shoes and no underwear!’

After I left home I always liked writing letters, telling of my latest experiences. I’ve always enjoyed relating stories and jokes— to anyone who would listen—most of which somehow related to something Scottish. Many people over the years have remarked, “You should write a book, Ian.” So now I’ve written several.

Q. Other than selling your book, what do you hope to accomplish with it?

A. I hope to give my own unique spin on understanding an impoverished life in the Scotland of the 1930s to 1950s; of the pre-Suez Canal crisis atmosphere in Egypt; of the joys of learning to play an instrument and joining a band. I hope that the reader will move from seeing me as a victim of poverty to seeing me overcome that life and also overcome the challenges that an immigrant faces.

Q. Who should buy this book?

A. People of any age from teens to seniors, especially those with interests in Scottish history, Scottish life, music-making, biography, and understanding the causes and consequences of poverty and immigration.

I might also add that lots of people enjoy books with pictures. “From Poverty to Poverty” is full of old photos taken by myself or others during the period of which I write. I’ve also added a few simple maps and drawings of the slum accommodations in which I first lived.

Q. Where can people buy your book?

A. Online at Amazon, or Friesen Press. – Links to these sellers are on my WordPress blog (ianmooremorrans.com). The book is also available for sale at the Highland Scottish Gift Shoppe in Calgary, Alberta, and at the Gallery Vertigo in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada or from most book sellers by special order. I also offer signed books for sale at book readings. The book is available as an e-book in PDF or Kindle format, as a paperback and also in hard cover format. The photos and maps are included in all versions.

ANNOUNCING AN INTERVIEW ON THE AUTHORS SHOW

On March 3, 4 and 5, Ian will be interviewed on THE AUTHORS SHOW, an internationally-acclaimed professional book marketing audio program in which selected authors are interviewed.

We are posting the following announcement wherever possible:
IAN MOORE-MORRANS,  SCOTTISH-CANADIAN AUTHOR, MEMBER OF THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS, the VERNON WRITERS’ GROUP and RESIDENT OF VERNON, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA will be interviewed about his book published by Friesen Press in 2012:
 Cover full size
 
 
The time for launching broadcast of this interview is North American Eastern Standard Time beginning at 12:00 a.m. The initial launching of the interview will run for 48 hours. Please note that beginning times of airing in other time zones are as follows:
NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA:
* Atlantic Standard Time – March 4, 1 a.m. and for the next 48 hours
* Central Standard Time – March 3, 11 p.m. and for the next 48 hours
* Mountain Standard Time – March 3, 10 p.m. and for the next 48 hours
* Pacific Standard Time – March 3, 9 p.m. and for the next 48 hours
EUROPE:
*Greenwich Mean Time (UK) – March 4, 5 a.m. and for the next 48 hours
*Central European time (Norway, Sweden, Germany) – March 4, 6 a.m.
       and for the next 48 hours
Go to this link to access the interview at the times listed above:
http://www.theauthorsshow.com/
Then choose: “For non-fiction click here”
Ian’s interview will be featured on the non-fiction part of the site for 12 months, “24/7”  sometime after the initial launching, with access from the same site.
It will also be accessible on this blog following the initial launch.
Questions to be asked in the interview may include a brief description of the book; who the book was written for;  a central message;  the most important idea shared in the book that will add value to the reader’s life; why the title was chosen; whether all the stories in the book are true; what one word could describe the book to someone who has not experienced poverty; who influenced the author’s early life the most and why; what was the greatest single decision in  life that started to lift the author out of a life of poverty and how did it do so; how and why  humor is used in the book and how that connects with the tragic circumstances of poverty; how musicianship is reflected in the book; why someone who has no Scottish connection would want to read the book;  and what made the author  think he could be a writer.
Please check out the interview and give us your feedback if you so desire.
We’d love to hear from you.
with best wishes,
Ian and Gayle Moore-Morrans

Crisis Situations – Am I Happy With the Way I React? No and Yes!

Thanks to Francis Guenette on her blog, “disappearing in plain sight, writing about writing” for drawing our attention to Word Press’ “Daily Prompt: In a Crisis” for January 17th. In it Michelle W. poses the challenge: “Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?” The challenge was interesting enough to encourage Gayle to respond by answering both “no” and “yes,” giving the following examples:

Thirty years ago I was living in Frankfurt, Germany with my late husband Gus and our two children, a daughter (6) and a son (1). I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. Gus came home from work every noon for a hot meal – our dinnertime. We had just finished eating dinner in the kitchen and were still sitting around the table when Gus put our little espresso pot onto the stove to make us some coffee. Now this was the old-fashioned kind of pot into which you put water in the bottom piece, espresso powder into the holed metal basket, added a rubber sealing ring around the top edge of the bottom piece and screwed the empty top piece onto the bottom piece to form a little espresso pot. With the pot on a heating element, the boiling action should have forced the water up through the coffee powder basket and into the top area. Voila – espresso. Unfortunately Gus had neglected to put the sealing ring into place, causing the coffee pot to “explode”! Our one-year-old was trapped in his highchair. Our six-year-old sat frozen to her chair. Gus jumped into action to take the part of the pot still on the element off the burner and turn off the stove. What did I do? Well, obviously without thinking, I got the heck out of the room! I just ran out and left my kids sitting there, never giving them a thought! Was I ever disgusted with myself – and embarrassed. Luckily no one was hurt from the explosion. My kitchen, however, was another story. After hugs all around, Gus took the kids into the bathroom to clean up the three of them. I got busy doing my “penance.” First stripping down to my underwear, I grabbed a stepladder and bucket to wash off the ceiling; put curtains, towels, tablecloth and our clothes into the washing machine and dishes into the dishwasher; applied heaps of elbow grease to clean up the wet and grainy dark brown mess dripping from cupboards, stove, fridge, table, chairs, window, etc. and finally mopped the floor. I’m still embarrassed about my cowardly reaction. What a protective mother I was—not!

Last year when I was visiting my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons (ages 1 and newborn) in Norway, I was proud and relieved to find out that my reaction to a crisis had changed from “flight” to “fight.” I was holding my 13-day-old grandson Ben at the breakfast table as we were discussing returning to the hospital with him as he was not looking or reacting well. All of a sudden he stopped breathing. I screamed, “He’s not breathing!” My son-in-law and I sprang into action and did CPR on him until the ambulance arrived and the emergency medical personnel took over. Soon a helicopter ambulance flew in carrying a pediatric cardiologist and finally the baby and doctor flew off for a hospital in Oslo with my daughter and son-in-law following in the auto ambulance. I stayed behind to care for the 13-month-old and two dogs. A few hours later my son-in-law called to tell me that Ben was dead and had been baptized at the hospital. I can’t even try to describe how heartsick we all were, still are, and perhaps always will be over the loss of Benjamin. I’ve always heard that the hardest loss is one of a child and now I know how true that is. An autopsy determined that Ben had a previously undetected heart problem which led to his death. Instead of the planned baptism, we began to prepare for a funeral. With God’s help, we all got through it somehow, and found comfort in being together. Considering that our CPR did little to prevent Ben’s death, I was still thankful I had taken a refresher CPR course the previous year and that I had realized instinctively that my best reaction in this particular situation was “fight.”

Gayle Moore-Morrans