I was in my 40s before I realized the role I was meant to play in my large
family of six sisters.
My parents had two sets of children. The first three girls were born in the
1950s, then, ten years later, the second set of three girls appeared on the
scene. I was the baby of the first set. It was a surprise to all, especially me,
when it turned out that, instead of being jealous of the three new babies in the
house, I took their birth as a sudden and joyful opportunity to have “real”
babies to play with instead of the fake ones that appeared every Christmas under
the tree. Instead of being the “baby” of the family, I morphed into the mother
figure for the younger set, a caregiving role I loved.
Fast forward numerous years, when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I
became her caregiver. I’ll never forget when the doctor called my dad and
me into his office to discuss my mother’s prognosis. Once I understood all the
chemotherapy and radiation that Mom would need to undergo during her battle
against this dreaded disease (while my father was still working full-time as an
Oakland firefighter), I knew what I wanted to do. I would be by at my mother’s
side every single time she needed to go to the oncologist or for a chemotherapy
or radiation treatment. No one should have to go through this horrifying process
without someone sitting right next to them every single day.
As for the four sisters’ mother in my new novel, MENDING FENCES, my mom fought
the cancer battle—and lost. That was when I realized that life was too short. I
wanted—needed—to place my relationship with my mother in a book in an
effort to memorialize her, to show how important it is to have a close
relationship with your mother and how important she was to me. So I wrote
MENDING FENCES, my June 19 women’s fiction novel from Ravenswood Publishing.
I remember those early days of writing this book. I didn’t want to make MENDING
FENCES seem as if it was a sad and depressing story. It’s anything but that.
Yes, it begins with the girls’ mother’s funeral, but their shared farewell to
their mom leads the reader into a poignant story about the relationships among
the four sisters and their father, and how the changes they make in their lives
stirs up trouble among them. The reader gets to know Sharon, the peacemaker, and
Helen, the rebel youngest sister. These two live and work on the family’s
Friesian horse ranch in Northern California with their father. Then there’s
Patti, the caregiver, and Kathy, the insecure creative one. Patti and Kathy live
in the San Diego area of Southern California.
MENDING FENCES occupies a special place in my heart because of the close
relationship my “book Patti” has had with her mother, as I did with mine. But it
also explores a theme I subconsciously chose to address (but didn’t realize it
until I wrote “the end”). MENDING FENCES deals with four sisters who love each
other but sometimes don’t get along because of their differences—hello, my
family! And this story shows that we all play roles in our families—and
sometimes we break out of our roles as we grow, mature and learn who we are and
what makes us happy.
Example: I bought a four-year-old Friesian horse, Maximus, in 2004. My husband,
two children and I went to Black Sterling Friesians in Sonoma, California, just
to “look” at the horses. Luckily, we brought our checkbook! We drove away from
the ranch with a receipt for my magnificent Maximus. Born in Leeuwarden,
Netherlands, he’d only been in the States for a couple of weeks and was the most
beautiful horse I’d ever seen. My big boy is black, with “feathers” covering his
feet up to his knees like the Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. His tail
reaches the ground, and he has a long and regal neck.
My purchase of Maximus surprised the heck out of my family and friends. They
were happy for me—I don’t mean to imply they weren’t. But they just didn’t see
the long-time caregiver of the family indulging herself in a pursuit that would
send her for long, solitary rides into the forests near Maximus’ stable. Too, I
became somewhat of an “athlete.” (Trust me—riding and caring for a magnificent
horse like Maximus, who needs frequent exercise, definitely fits within the
definition of athlete.) Again, a surprise for my family.
In my new book, the sisters have a lot to learn about one another! And a lot of
fences to mend to become a close family again.
I hope you enjoy MENDING FENCES, which is available in print and eBook on
Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. You can read the first three chapters on www.PatriciaYagerDelagrange.com.
When have you surprised your family by doing something that didn’t mesh with the
role in your family? And what was your family’s reaction?
Fascinated by broken-hearted couples and atypical families, Patricia Yager
Delagrange weaves engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families
where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters
who struggle to find balance in life after tragedy. Whether an unwed teenager,
desperate widow, abandoned father, or a couple who stray from their marital
vows, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Patricia attended St. Mary’s
College in Moraga, California, where she studied Psychology and Spanish. She
spent her junior year abroad at the University of Madrid then transferred to UC
Santa Barbara where she received her B.A. in Spanish. She went on to get a
Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University.
Patricia lives with her husband and two children in Alameda, across the bay from
San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs named Annabella and
Jack, and a rescue terrier mix, Shay Dog. Oh, and she also takes care of her
daughter's guinea pig, Lucifer. When she’s not writing or spending time with her
family, Patricia enjoys riding her Friesian horse Maximus, who lives in the
Oakland hills with a million dollar view.
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