I love a good memoir. About the time, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls (a memoir of really bad parenting) was on the bestseller list week-after-week, I began a memoir kick, and read about 10 in a row. They always seemed to be infused with wonderful and personal storytelling.
Around this time, a sophisticated lady with a slight accent was trying to give a reading of her book at a Chicago-area Barnes and Noble. She didn't have any interest from those seated in the cafe, and the polite book lover in me couldn't bear that. I had to make her feel welcome by sitting down and listening to what she shared. She was Turkish-American, an immigrant and now a citizen of America, and she was sharing her memories of living with a bipolar spouse.
The black and white book cover looked awfully grim, the title even grimmer, and the subject did nothing to make me say, "gee, I can't wait to read that." Yet the author, Sel Erder Yackley, was so nice and friendly and most importantly, smart and courageous in telling her story, that I just felt I had to buy her slim book. I was so glad I did!
Her book wasn't just about her life with a bipolar spouse; it included her incredible story of immigration to America. I would shake my head in admiration, as I read, at Ms. Yackley's gift for making the most of every single opportunity that ever presented itself to her as a new resident of America.
She also brought her journalist's impartiality and detachment in describing the mental illness her husband suffered from in small town Illinois when she tells her story. I use the word detachment because she feels no shame and expresses no shame in sharing her husband's downward spiral and eventual suicide due to his bipolar condition. That's so important, I believe, because it frees others to not blame themselves and just deal with these situations as the medical conditions they are.
It couldn't have been easy being a Turkish Muslim lady living in small-town Illinois. But she made boatloads of friends, even receiving recognition from the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), which is kind of fun since she was neither a man or a Christian.
This was just a chance encounter in a bookstore with someone from a country I knew nothing about. Her book was on a topic unfamiliar to me. I had no idea at the time it would later help influence the direction of my life. A few years later, I was discussing with my European friends what country I should try next. My Europeans friends suggested "You should move to Turkey! The energy of the Turkish people on the street is a-m-a-z-i-n-g." This lady is the one person who represented Turkey to me. I liked what I knew.
You can click on my title to go to the Amazon link for the book.
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