“I don’t know why you want to go to college.”
I was eighteen, driving to campus for freshman orientation when my mother said this to me. I don’t remember what I said to her, but I remember what I wanted to say. Because I don’t want to be you.
College was my version of burning my bra. The youngest of three and the only girl, I’d grown up doing household chores while my brothers went about their lives. In hindsight, I suspect my mother harbored some jealousy in my regards. I was determined to make my way in the world, something she’d never had the opportunity to do. Her life consisted of cooking three meals a day and cleaning up after three kids and a husband with grease beneath his fingernails.
At the time, the closest thing I had to a sister—a cousin two months older than me—was married with a baby. In my mother’s eyes, I had some catching up to do.
I had no intention of catching up or being caught.
I got caught. Married before finishing my degree, moving across country with a toddler and another soon to arrive, my education ended one semester short of a degree.
There are times I wish I’d finished, but then I look at what I’ve accomplished and that’s one piece of paper I can do without. I married a man who has never tried to hold me back. Over the years, he has encouraged me many times to finish what I started, but for me, I had started something more important—the raising of my heroes.
My path is not for everyone, and there are those who would argue that I ended up doing exactly what my mother wanted me to do. That’s partially true, but I took on the role of mother, homemaker and wife because I wanted to, not because I had to. That’s the difference.
Over forty years since our first date, I’m still married to my best friend. We have two lovely daughters who are my heroes.
I raised our girls to be strong and independent. I wanted them to have every opportunity to be the person they wanted to be. I wanted them to have more than one path to choose from. And the best way to do that was to offer them a quality education. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
A few days ago, while most of the students were in class, the interim president of Sweet BriarCollege announced that due to insurmountable financial difficulties, the 114 year-old women’s liberal arts school will close its doors this year. Students, faculty, and alumnae were shocked.
Almost immediately, the Sweet Briar community came together in an effort to save the college that has graduated over 20,000 young women. Yes, small potatoes in terms of numbers, but there is nothing small about a Sweet Briar graduate. I know, because one of them is mine.
My youngest received her undergraduate degree from Sweet Briar College, her Master’s in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, and graduated from the South Carolina Police Academy.
|"She was a vixen when she went to school; And though she be but little, she is fierce." Shakespeare|
At 5’1”, she carries a gun. Her favorite color is pink. She’s quick to smile, but never backs down from a challenge.
I encourage you to educate yourself on this small but relevant school. See media coverage here. I’ve seen first-hand the value of this kind of education. Sweet Briar is in the business of empowering women, and they do an exceptional job.
In an effort to assist the fundraising efforts designed to keep the school open long enough for a long-range solution to their financial difficulties, I am pledging all proceeds from the sale of Lost Melody from now until May 31st, to the savesweetbriar.com campaign.
This is not one of my bestselling novels, but it is the one closest to my heart, and one that probably wouldn’t exist if my daughter had not attended Sweet Briar College. Let me explain.
We’d just moved to the east coast from southern California. Sarah was in her second semester at Sweet Briar. Her car had just arrived via a car-carrier service, and I set out to deliver it to her. Her old Taurus had little to recommend it other than comfortable leather seats and a kick-ass stereo, which I took shameless advantage of. Yes, that was me, bass thumping down the highway, singing along at the top of my lungs, drumming on the steering wheel like I was seventeen again. It was a six-hour drive! What else was I supposed to do?
I’d been attempting to write a book for a while so when the first kernel of a story about a drummer and a woman with a secret popped into my mind, I ran with it. By the time I arrived at Sweet Briar, the story was in my head. All I had to do was write it.
Shelved several times in the intervening years, Lost Melody went through at least a half-dozen rewrites before I was happy with the manuscript. All this is laid out in the Acknowledgements in the front of the book. The birth of the idea is not the only link the book has to Sweet Briar. The heroine, Melody Harper Ravenswood, is a graduate of Sweet Briar College. Here’s that bit of her backstory:
She had been running away from the guilt then. Sweet Briar College had been a perfect place for her to hide. The beautiful, sprawling campus at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains was quiet and easily missed unless one knew it was there.
Sweet Briar was what Melody needed in her life, a place to be herself, a place to learn, grow, and discover. Like many other Sweet Briar graduates, she left there with the education and determination to make her way in the world.
Lost Melody is the most critically acclaimed of all my writings. As an unpublished manuscript, it won the Melody of Love contest and placed in the Golden Claddaugh Contest. As a published novel, it received a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, was a finalist for the Book Sellers Best Award, and the Reader’s Choice award.
Here’s the blurb:
Out of sight, out of mind. That’s what Melody Ravenswood was counting on when she invented a new life for herself as Mel Harper in the small farming community of Willowbrook, Texas. She could be herself, whoever that was. Having long since lost her identity to being the only child and sole beneficiary of a legendary rock and roller, she was finally going to live the normal life she craved – a job, a house, friends and no paparazzi.
Hank Travis is the last thing Mel needs in her new life. The local boy turned rock and roll star’s sexy, won’t take no for an answer pursuit makes her long for a life she has only dreamed of. Before Mel can have the future she wants with Hank, she must confront her past and find the Melody she lost along the way.
Again, ALL PROCEEDS from the sale of Lost Melody for the months of March, April and May, 2015 will be donated to the Save Sweet Briar campaign. The eBook is only $3.99. The print version is $12. If you would rather contribute more to the cause, please visit the pledge site, SavingSweetBriar, to do so.