Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: 'Everything I Never Told You' by Patrice M. Foster


Jamaica-born Pennsylvania author Patrice M. Foster comes from an abusive background, having been abandoned by first her mother who fled to America to escape her abusive husband only to be deserted by the father resulting in Patrice and her siblings been placed in abusive foster homes. At age twelve she with her siblings were unsuccessfully reunited with their mother, returned to their father became homeless, and yet survived. Patrice, incredibly, finished school and moved to New Jersey where she entered an LPN program 1986. After graduating, she relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she furthered her career by becoming an RN in 1998. She continued her education by pursuing a BSN program at Immaculate University. Aware of the poor treatment encountered by nurses, in 2000, she established her company, Respect Medical Services, through which she committed herself to improve the working conditions and compensation of medical personnel. Her belief was that nurses who were treated and compensated as professionals were better able to perform as compassionate caregivers, thereby creating an environment beneficial to the physical and emotional wellbeing of their patients. Patrice's greatest sense of accomplishment was achieved by securing employment for others. Though she closed her business in 2004, she continues to work as a nurse, as well as traveling the path to healing and self-discovery.

To date Patrice has published ten books ranging from memoirs and life’s swords that have challenged her, to Romances. She keeps her pen busy and though most of her books are short they are rich in communication. In her Introduction Patrice states, ‘This book is dedicated to my children. Over the course of parenthood, we often leave things unsaid. Perhaps it is our own inability to say what we mean to say. Perhaps we haven’t had the perfect role models in our lives and are trying our hardest to be the moms that our kids respect and love. However, in my case, I should have let you— my children— know a lot more than I did, and I want to rectify this by devoting this book to you, so that you know, at the end of the day, that my love for you was always without measure. Perhaps I am sometimes unable to speak the words or show you in the right way, but you are my reason for living. In so many ways, mothers try to protect their children from harm. What may come over as not caring could actually be the sign that a mother cares a little too much sometimes.’

Patrice takes us through her pregnancies in a manner that places the narrative as confessions with each of her children – how pregnancy can create feelings of inadequacy, doubt about appearance, coping with night crying, insecurity, discipline, rules about black and white thinking, caring and sharing (‘People who don’t really know love as children grow up with a bitterness in their hearts, and I don’t want your lives to be like that. I experienced it firsthand’), self perception and self worth (‘You don’t need to depend on other people’s approval. You need to live lives that are independent and that are just as happy if much of the time is spent alone. When you are happy in the person that you are, it follows that people around you will be happy with who you are as well’), seeking and finding happiness, then impact of family history, ‘the sex thing’, how Holidays are handled, fear and how to cope (‘I walked through fear with every pregnancy. I walked through it every day, bringing up kids on my own and wondering how I could manage, but there were days that taught me how to overcome this feeling. You need to stop talking negatively to yourselves and start to believe in the wonder that life is offering you.’), material possessions, emotions and vulnerability, compromise, careers and family – each of the areas of discussion or confession is offered in Patrice’s explanation of how her life has been in hopes that she can make her children’s lives better.

In her sensitivity Patrice closes with one of her poems that summarizes her book: ‘As I conclude this book that’s written from my heart to yours, I want you to reflect on life and all the things we shared. Sit down and close your eyes to life; just stop and take a pause, Because within your memories, you’ll discover that I cared. It isn’t what you think in life, but what you can impart And share with those around you. That matters in the end, To open up a dialog and do it from the heart. It’s love you should be aiming at, and that you should defend. I know that in my weakness, I have failed to show my love, As no one showed me how to, and I couldn’t learn alone. This love I feel for each of you is from our God above, And I never want you in your lives to feel you’re on your own. Please know I love you, though I never found the way to show it,
But after you have read my words, I hope that you will know it.’

More than just a book for expectant mothers, mother, and grandmothers, this book opens a window into the solid contributions this amazingly humanistic and kind author is aiding a world that needs her thoughts. Grady Harp, March 17







Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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