What Death Taught Terrence
You wake up from what you think is a dream to learn your body and soul are in a predetermined place that has been especially designed and chosen for you and your spirit. Questions reel through your mind and am image appears as you begin a new journey but where will it take you and what lessons will you learn?
Terrence is about to go on an ethereal trip within the after world meeting people from his past and understanding his new future.
Meeting his panel of judges sends him for a direct review with God whose form takes on different people that he knew in the past. Events that marked his life would be revisited and relived as the goal is of him to find out his next destination if there is one. Finding the meaning of his life or his soul will no longer exist. Close your eyes and open your mind as you take the journey along with Terrence and understand through his eyes and the eyes of those who had impacted on his mortal life and we help him understand his important life’s lesson.
His interactions with God are quite unique and help readers understand that no one is perfect and everyone in life experiences difficult situations that they often would like to forget but in this case God hopes it will help Terrence become stronger as the person or spirit wherever his final destination is. First the image is of his friend Charlie, then his philosophy professor and then his father who takes on different personas and images. Each person reflects and helps him flash back to a time in his life that provided difficulties in his physical attributes since he had palsy and his legs often needed surgery and therapy. His father at times as we meet him in many different situations can be warm and caring or hardnosed when drunk. Even his best friend Connor turns on him and the outcome is quite revealing, sad and allows Terrence to learn someone else about himself. Can he withstand all that he learns of the past including when he is in the image of his mother, Lisa who meets his father and the result is he is born?
Each chapter begins with a poem that helps readers understand what is about to happen in the chapter and how it relates to his next flashback or memory. Added in we hear his voice as he narrates the events and helps readers understand through his innermost thoughts presented in italics what he’s thinking and what he is willing to share with God.
Taking different appearances and having to be someone else, Terrence gets to see the past or the world through his father’s eyes and someone close to his father, Chloe who is not his mother yet has taken an interest in him. Throughout his life he thought his father was tough on him, often got drunk and did not think that he had any capacity for much, yet as we get to know Terrence, we realize that is not true. Understanding his new world, reliving the past and sharing his feelings we get to understand the effects of death on him, his true fears and how he might finally come to understand his relationships with his father, his mother who left because he has palsy and friends who teased and bullied him in school as his father told him to toughen up. The two chapters that relate what happens with his friend Connor, allows readers to understand what happens when someone you think you can trust and is a friend, betrays it and the reactions of both of his parents to the same situation.
The author takes us deep inside the heart, mind and thoughts of Terrence as he experiences his review, deals with his past, what he considers his present and the unknown future.
Terrence has to deal with the many images of his father, his mother and even himself as he takes a tour of his life learning more about his palsy, how he had difficulty eating and cutting his food, the fear of not being loved and the fact that his father did not at least he thought have the son he wanted. Not being able to play sports it took someone else to teach him about baseball and how to use the scorecard. This is an intense story and the journey is quite profound.
Through the reviews the author reveals many sides of Terrence as he meets people in the past that had a strong impact on his life during many different phases. His father when God used his image to focus on a review helps him to experience once again his fears with surgery, his inability to cut his food and the fact that he could not participate in sports. Terrence feels as you understand his emotional iOS and downs that he’s a disappointment to so many . His father’s wife explored ways to make him feel whole, normal and realize his intelligence. However, each time the years flashback we learn more about situations and events that might change his perception about them each time the author revisits them .
There are many different phases of this memoir of review of the life of Terrence as he once again is in the presence of God who requests a favor of him, but he is not himself he is someone named Mattie. The focus is writing his own in a sense memoir, helping Megan, his stepdaughter gets her prayers or prayer answered and next we once again hear him talking with Charlie. All of this takes place at times before his death, during and after. The timelines shift very often, and we carefully must follow his life as it flashes back and forth to different times, different dates and yet some are the same. He seems to be wandering around several universes and at times just looking for where he belongs, affirmation that he was a good father, person and hopefully will find success at the end as a writer.
The author helps readers learn about his life through his new wife Mattie who understands his shortcomings and builds on his strengths along with his daughter Megan who we meet early in her life and then as a mother. But how does he feel when she marries the son of a man who taunted him and used him as a punching instrument in school?
Take a huge canvas and divide it into several squares and create a painting, mural or even a mosaic of your life that would be exactly what author Derek McFadden did when creating a total painting of the life of Terrence McDonald. Each square would have a remembrance of his life with his father, Carl, his mother Lisa before she left, Mattie, Chloe who filled a huge hole when his real mother was gone, Charlie his best friend, his uncle, grandfather and more as we come to the close of his life, the end is near, the hope that he will write the memoir he promised to write, the hope that he can forgive himself for his own failings and even more that Terrence understands the true meaning of his life even after death.
If you were given 2 months back on earth to take care of things that you felt undone what would you devote those days to doing? Terrence reflects on the book he promised to write, his love of his wife and his daughter Megan and granddaughter Emma as he is shown through the eyes of others just how valuable he was to so many and that his perception of living in fear of failure, never feeling productive, finally realizing you must be willing to try, know your own limitations and don’t exceed them to a point where you put yourself in an unsafe situation. This novel is a review of his life as if he is writing his own book review including the details, characters, events and the beginning, middle and end of an entire novel with the Verdict the conclusion.
What is his overriding lesson? What is his companion lesson? What is his destination? Can you spend your life blaming yourself for what you could not do? The ending will allow readers to learn his fate, understand the fate of others and his destination as we come to the close of a memoir, review and book that will impact everyone in a different way. This is one novel that will stay with me for a long time as you the reader and this reviewer will understand after reading this review of his life: What Death Taught Terrence.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews