Shards of Glass: Memories: Sharon McCabe
This book enlightens readers to the importance of family love, loyalties and strength. Within the pages of this memoir you will meet Harold and Lacey first who had five children who fostered respect, hope, and a deep affection for each other though good times and bad times. When adversity strikes at the center of the first chapter and the father of all of these children passes away, Lacey the mother is stricken, can no longer fend for herself and each member of the family and extended family take on many different roles to care for this special parent. Starting in the 1800’s and going through the early and middle 1900’s this family takes us on their journey one member at a time. Tragedy does not stop them for forging ahead and when each family member undergoes some sickness, tragic decline or moves to another state in order to get a promotion and different employment opportunities even miles away still manages to stay close. The time period that is primarily focused on is the early 1930’s in Ohio. Harold and Lacey raised their children and their children their children with high moral standards and respect for everyone. As each member marries, some loses spouses and another joins the Navy the family manages to keep in close touch through the mail and other forms of correspondence. The author sums up the ending of some of the characters and where they wind up at the close of some of the chapters but recaps other events in their lives in the following ones.
Dahlia is the oldest daughter married to Benjamin and his parents adore her from the start. Celia marries Paul who seems like a vagabond having his family move from place to place, purchasing different homes or his boss giving him lodging for his family leading his young daughter Jussie to rebel at times wanting to remain near her cousins and her friends. But, not everything will go as planned and when Lottie loses Ray things get hard for her yet when Dahlia needs time off from work she forges ahead and covers for her. Miss Lucy is my favorite character that takes care and hovers over the family throughout the book until she passes leaving an empty space in all of minds and souls. Even Sam who is in the Navy on a boat thinks about Miss Lucy while working hard to do all of the tasks assigned to him and of course making his family wonder if he is okay. Added in Benjamin’s family is in Germany and the family and Benjamin worry about his parents hoping they will manage to escape the Nazis but their correspondence has stopped and of course he is concerned.
I love the family parties, Christmas celebrations and Madeline who is loving and kind taking care of Jussie and then when they Paul and Celia make another move getting her a job as his receptionist at the factory where he is working.
Guilt ridden Madeline working with Paul in the torpedo factory wants to leave with Sam and move to Cincinnati but not everything looks as it seems or is as it seems. Life takes on a different meaning as Madeline and Paul find themselves in a compromising position seen by someone who takes it all in. Paul appears self-absorbed and only concerned about his wants and needs leaving him to fall prey to his own wrong desires hurting Celia and losing his daughter’s respect for him causing her to do something he feels is wrong and rash.
Told by the author as she narrates the story from start to finish within specific time frames we get an inside look at this tightly knit family. The turmoil that Celia goes through each time Paul decides to make a move to another location claiming he is trying to do more for his family. Then, losing a child and hesitating to tell Paul that she was pregnant adds tension to their marriage. As Madeline realizes that although he is married to her sister she seems drawn to him but tries to restrain her feelings.
Ben suffers the worst tragedy of all when he learns what the heartless German’s did to his parents because they were Jewish and this brings the atrocities of the Holocaust in the limelight bringing tears to the reader’s eyes. His struggles to get through it were difficult and with the help of his family he survives yet never knowing the fate of his brother. At the close of chapter 23 the author tells us about the fate of this part of the family moving to Chapter 24 and we learn more about Lacey and her ability to overcome so much after the death of Harold and the love her family had for her. Each member taking turns caring for her and each one hoping that Sam would come home alive.
This is a story told with much emotion and passion that this reviewer just read it from start to finish without putting it down until I read the last page and was wondering if the author will share the next chapter of her family’s life with readers. Jussie was difficult and realizing what she saw changed her perspective when she defies her father and goes after Scully who he feels is not right for her. Her impetuous behavior brought her back to him and their life together seemed to flourish. On page 137 we see a picture of Buttons 2 her dog, her salvation when things were tough for her to handle and the heartbreak when losing him. Meeting Scully McElvoy proved deadly for Jussie as her father did not approve of him at all but she did not really care. August 11, 1948 she married him and went on to have a family. Celia and Paul parting and Madeline and Paul married until something happens and changes it all. The story spans from the early 1930’s until 2015 as the author expresses her feelings about writing this memoir, her mother, Jussie posing on the farm with Buttons 2 on her 15th birthday and the final ending that explains the fate of all of the family hoping that she will write the next chapter. The pictures tell their own special story and the beautiful Willow Tree on page 140 says it all. As each piece of the story is told we realize that life is fragile. Take a piece of stain glass and each time something happens it begins to shed small fragments until all that is left are Shards of Glass and Memories that you won’t ever forget. But, as the author relates each memory the piece of glass forms that beautiful stain glass again making the memories whole.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine