About two years after I published The Lake Placid Cure, I was invited to participate in the Class of ’85 Series by our fabulous Last Rose of Summer Wild Rose Press editor, Kathy Cottrell. I said yes immediately. Not because I’d been to so many high school reunions, but because I’d been to so few. If you read Bonded for Life or An Inn Decent Proposal, you’ll note that neither story takes place at the Class of ’85 Reunion events.
In An Inn Decent Proposal, the Inn where the festivities occur is seen the year before the event, a grande dame down on her luck, rescued by Genie King and Jim Rawlings. In Bonded for Life, Lola Getz is running from kidnappers, to the safest place (she thinks) in the world. Little does Lola know when she arrives under cover of night that The Dweebster has grown up to become a hunky cop--and he has her in his cross hairs. Like Lola Getz, as soon as I graduated from high school, I ran away as fast as I could.
Why did I run? No, it wasn’t because I’d become a contract killer, like Grosse Point Blank’s Martin Blank. You see, in high school I was a walking cliché: formerly fat, unpopular book worm from the wrong side of the tracks and a divorced mother. With a graduating class of 200, there was no nerd herd to hide me. I had a few good friends who kept me sane, but unlike my sister, I was not going to win any beauty contests. I had a hard enough time just finding hand me down clothes that weren’t too small because I was taller than my sister. Did I mention I was a giant, scrawny 17 year old (5 foot 7 inches, 127 pounds), too?
In spite of all the above, the hardest part of my life was my big secret. To the outside world my mother was perfect. She was a Girl Scout Troop leader, a Sunday school teacher and a hard-working single mother in a Donna Reed world. But at home, behind closed doors, she was Mommy Dearest. She told me never to reveal the abuse or else.
When I hit my 52nd birthday, after much soul searching, many hours of therapy and support groups ad infinitum, I decided to face my demons. First I paid a visit to my mother to whom I had not spoken in over 25 years. What I found in my wiser adulthood was a woman with a severe personality disorder who was incapable of giving any affection, much less being a good mother.
The second thing I did was to attend my 35th high school reunion. Unlike the comedian in the Quinnipiac College Reunion Video, I did not go to see who had gotten fat or who was single. I went to prove to myself that I had outgrown that awkward adolescent girl, that I had become someone better because of my trials and tribulations.
To my unending surprise, I was greeted with smiles, hugs and warm welcomes. Many of the women who had been in my mother’s Girl Scout troop and Sunday school class approached me and said apologetically, “I hate to say this, but your mother--she wasn’t right.” “Your mother was---eccentric.” “Your mother scared me.” To each woman I replied, “Thank you. Thank you for telling me this. You have no idea what this means to me.” The “secret” wasn’t a secret. I was freed from the chains of that lie, at last.
So go to your high school reunion. Find out what happened to the guy you had a crush on. Maybe he’s single--or maybe he’s transformed himself into someone new. You never know. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself.
PS: Three lucky readers will receive a copy of one of my Last Rose of Summer stories: The Lake Placid Cure Bonded for Life and An Inn Decent Proposal. All you have to do is find out the name of the hero and heroine in The Lake Placid Cure, then go to my website at www.sharonbuchbinder.com , go to the Contact Me page and complete the online form. Send me your contact information and the names of the H/H in The Lake Placid Cure.
Tomorrow: Sue Fineman
Tomorrow: Sue Fineman