Escaping one’s family roots is only achieved by the choices one makes
(Beaverton, Oregon) Carol Grier’s new book Choices is a very special memoire that chronicles a slice of true Americana. Here is a gritty fascinating personal history that chronicles the growth and development of a strong willed self-realized modern American woman as she faces a family heritage and a lifetime of anguish-laden challenges that will have you crying and laughing time and again.
Carol Grier is a spritely and eloquent eighty-five year old woman who effortlessly teaches life lessons from the heart, story by story. She shows us how to pull your sox up and get on with life in the face of a fascinating journey through the heartland of 20th century America. Her book is a trial-by-tribulation-filled journey through a life filled with troubles and conflicts – a glorious effort to find out whether it is possible to escape her family roots. The book begins two generations prior to her own life.
Her great-grandfather was hung by the neck for stealing a horse in West Virginia. Her grandmother married a traveling preacher. The family moved to Coos Bay, Oregon just after the turn of the century where he worked in a lumber mill until he got blacklisted for being involved with a group who were trying to bring in a union. They ended up moving to rural Idaho. Her grandparents had ten children with no thought given to how they would provide for them.
Her Grandpa didn’t believe in denying himself sex. “Years later,” she writes, “Grandma told Mother she was proud of the fact that she never refused him. Mother said, ‘Maybe you should have.’ Though Grandma clearly loved each of her children, Grandpa’s wishes came first. That was the woman’s role in those times and her example became the standard for the next generation, as well. Unfortunately, it also contributed to seven of the surviving nine children’s divorces.”
Carol was born in a farmhouse several miles from Orofino, Idaho in 1924. She moved frequently, experiencing life from urban, rural and suburban perspectives as her family moved from to Yosemite National Park, to San Francisco, California and finally to Portland, Oregon.
A difficult marriage and a beautiful marriage book end her adult life along with raising her son. Through grit and determination, she obtained her college degree in theatre arts later in life and considers that a real triumph for an older gal.
She covers the sweep of life – from the poverty of the 1920s in the back country of Idaho, to the serenity of Yosemite National Park during the Great Depression, to the war years, the turbulent sixties, the go-go eighties and finally, easing into the new century. She shares what it is like to live in poverty stricken times, deal with an abusive, philandering husband. She finds out that her only child was gay. He died of AIDS in 1988, before medicine knew much about the disease. She learned to cope with drug abuse that ran throughout the family, and what it is like managing a new life with difficult step-children. From these experiences, she has experienced life to the fullest; both suffered and survived – and stronger for the lessons learned.
Curl up in your favorite chair with a box of tissues and your favorite drink and get ready for a life of adventure, torment and triumph. Carol Grier shares it all – the good times and bad, illness and death, love and infidelity, weaving a fascinating story of indomitable spirit, fierce determination, gentle humor and an attitude of great resiliency in the face of life's most challenging moments. Her life is a compelling journey and she fills the pages with understanding, acceptance, compassion, and intelligence.
Background Questions and Answers
How did your book come about?
I hoped that my story would be an example of how we can get through a series of tragedies and still have a worthwhile life. I wanted to help people learn how to pull up their socks and get on with their lives.
How has the community responded to your work?
A number of my readers have been amazed at how much we have in common. Individuals who have read the book call me and share their stories with me. Members of book clubs, after reading the book, share their lives with each other. “Choices” touches the heart.
What are you currently working on?
I am writing “How to Recognize a Good Man When You Meet Him…and How to Treat Him.” I want to help women pick out good husbands. I am also in the editing process of a novel, “Pine Bluff,” which is a multi-generational story of a family in Idaho.
Have you ever had to overcome real tragedy and hardship in your life?
I had a gay son who died of AIDS in 1988. “Choices” reveals the numerous hardships and tragedies I lived through. I learned to “pull up my socks and get on with life.” I want to help others do the same.
Interview Carol Grier – Fascinating Talking Points
Emotional abuse can be so subtle that the victim is hardly aware of it. It usually comes in the form of blame or derision. The victim is made to feel guilty, hurt, inadequate. Of course, the victim is driven to make an effort to please the abuser. The abuser is clever, so he backs off for a while, and the victim is sure she has solved the problem. After a while, though, the degradation of the victim happens again. The relationship between the two people has become a see-saw of abuse/effort-to-please. The problem will never be solved until the abusee leaves the abuser. Unfortunately, some abusers can’t accept the consequences of their behavior, and they get revenge by killing the person who deserted them.
Grief and Loss
Yes, it hurts, but you can live again.
Finding Your Spine
We all go through fear at times, but it seems to me that the media is forcing fear upon us. Think of all the things that are going to give us cancer or heart trouble. We are urged to beware of so many things that didn’t kill this 85-year-old, but are sure to kill you, that I’ve begun to wonder if the advertising industry and the corporations are in cahoots. You think?
I highly recommend that you use your mute button during the commercials. In fact, I have actually been known to wear out a couple of mute buttons, that’s how rabid I am about this subject. All the threats and fears that are preached to us on nearly every subject, are taking the fun out of life. It’s making us dreary, even leading some of us to use tranquilizers. Hmm, think of that. So start using that spine of yours and look for laughter and love. I’m sure they are still out there in cyberspace, somewhere.
It’s Up To You:
You want to be happy? First, sit down and make a list on one side of the page with a heading of Happy. Add another column with a heading of Unhappy. It’s simple. All you have to do is fill in the columns with what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy, but you have to list 20 things under each heading.
You should learn a great deal about yourself from these lists. For those of us who really don’t want to be happy, it will be a hard lesson, perhaps one they just can’t absorb. For those of us who have been ground down with responsibilities and tough breaks, it will give them a chance to breathe again. Try it. Find some joy.
How Does One Live When the Tide Is Against You?
I had a gay son who died of AIDS in 1988. The medical community didn’t know very much about the disease at that time. As a result, the AIDS victims were subjected to revulsion and rejection. Now we are better educated about the disease, but the rejection and hate for gays still simmers among certain factions in this country.
Homosexuality has been used as a political weapon, and it has used religion as a partner in hate. For those who are parents of gays, our children’s pain is our pain. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is an organization that can help both parents and their children. I recommend PFLAG to help you over the rough spots.
Denial never changes the outcome. Too many bankers and brokers were in denial before the bottom dropped out of our economy. Their denial didn’t keep back the tide of consequences. We have a harmful consequence of denial going on in the Gulf of Mexico right now. People who refuse to see a problem are denying their own intelligence. It appears that having immediate satisfaction can blind people who actually know the facts.
In too many cases, the real cause is greed.
Carol Grier’s Ten Commandments
1. Be faithful to yourself, your mate, and your children.
2. Be honorable.
3. Be ethical.
4. Be compassionate
5. Treat others as you would have them treat you.
6. Cultivate humor and laughter.
7. Be generous with love.
8. Be eager to learn.
9. Be outgoing, not in-growing.
10. Always have a goal.
Carol Grier has lived life to the fullest and has collected memories and views of life which are insightful in understanding the human spirit. Besides her titles of mother, daughter, wife, and friend, she also is a writer, educator, consultant, actress, director and wardrobe specialist. Carol was born in rural Idaho, but moved frequently, experiencing life from urban, rural and suburban perspectives as her family moved from rural Orofino, Idaho, to Yosemite National Park, to San Francisco, California and finally to Portland, Oregon. A difficult marriage and a beautiful marriage book end her adult life along with raising her son. Through grit and determination, she obtained her college degree in theatre arts later in life and considers that a real triumph for an older gal. Her previous book Secrets, (2002) is all about her gay son. Carol now lives in Beaverton, Oregon where she is currently working on a book "How to Recognize a Good Man When You Meet Him," as well as a novel set in the mountains of Idaho.
Disclosure: I did not receive any form of compensation for this post.