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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The 4th Anniversary of Harper Lee's Passing (And Her Influence On Me)


Today is the fourth anniversary of Harper Lee's death. I've paid homage to Ms. Lee's passing since the day it occurred (2-19-2016). This morning while doing some research I came across an interesting New York Post article (by Melkorka Licea, Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein) re an apartment that she maintained in NYC. The photo atop my entry is from their piece.

As I've mentioned in my blog entries re Harper Lee, rarely is the time I encounter certain birds such as blue jays or mockingbirds and not think of her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

On another note, because I've been in the process of making small revisions to the opening lines of my book project (titled Imperfect Strangers), which seeks to raise awareness about living with a medical condition known as Neurofibromatosis and where the story begins from a young child's perspective...

"Imperfect Strangers":

... my thoughts have turned to the lines Harper Lee used to open  To Kill A Mockingbird's story. 

Here's how she begins the novel:

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt."

As many of readers of this blog know, a young girl (Scout) is speaking the aforementioned lines and the story meets its goal of  of raising awareness re racism.

My book, Imperfect Strangers, is an autobiographical account of experiences I’ve had as a result of the general public reaction to any form of disfigurement.

Mine, as of this posting, begins quite differently, when the narrator has just become five years old:

“'Don’t get in the car until I clean up this Goddamn mess, you stupid girl! At five years old, you ought to know better,'  Dad yells to me as he tries to scrape globs of colored wax off the window ledge behind the back seat of his maroon Chevy.

The mess was my fault as it wax was from my crayons which had been given to me as a birthday gift from my grandmother. I had used them to draw in my sketch book while my dad drove my mom, my sister and me to a local amusement park to celebrate my turning five.

I stand next to his car looking at the orange and yellow painted lines that divide The Village Play-Land’s parking lot into sections. That morning when Daddy parked there, it hadn’t been a sunny spot; but since we were at this amusement park a long time, the sun had shifted. Now it is shining down upon the cars.
As dad continues to scrape the wax from my crayons off the inner window ledge of his car, I stare down at the parking lot’s black-top pavement and make a wish to be someone else."

After more narrative, I go on to say:

"Ever since I was born I have had six flat brown spots in various sizes to on my body. Our docotor says they are called cafe´au lait spots. The biggest one is on the right cheek of my bottom. The next two larger ones are on my back and my tummy. The other three spots are on my arms and legs. These are smaller than the others. I don’t think they show very much since my skin has an olive tone.The doctor says I have these spots because I was born with a medical condition called von Reckinghausen’s; a name I have trouble pronouncing."

The story continues from there and is my hope that it will have an impact just as Ms. Lee's did.

Therefore on this anniversary day, I thank Harper Lee for speaking out about topics that needed to be addressed and I can only hope, the subjects I speak about will be of value once its published and continue to provide insight for years to come.

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