Sunday, February 8, 2009

Better Late Than Never! Wonderful Email from a Reader!

I don't know what happened to my brain when I moved last year to this new abode, but I totally forgot about having an AOL email account as well as an MSN account. I still have the AOL account because some of the TREK/DE websites out there (and my book website) still have my AOL email address listed... but as I say, I totally spaced on having it last June after Jackie and I moved to the new place. I just remembered it last night, so had some catching up to do, and some apologizing to do as well! (Of the 247 emails that were there, only about six were from De's fans; the rest were ads and come-ons... so you can see why it was pretty easy to forget about my email account, as I assumed everyone who knows of me has my MSN account email!)

I received a number of wonderful emails via the AOL account about my DeForest Kelley book (A Harvest of Memories), but one in particular really "got" me, and I asked the writer, Stacey Cook, if I could publish it here. She said yes and also gave me an update. So here they are...

Hi Kris,

Wow, I feel like I know you personally. Tis not often that a book or a tv star gives you that feeling, but I have it; both about you and De. Congratulations.

Allow me to start out with a bit of biography, so you can know me too. My name is Stacey Cook. I'm married, have a step-son, I'm 31. I'm a Freelance Producer and I live in Orlando, FL. I do mostly commercials and brochures, but have also done the occasional tv show and movie. I'm also a devout trekkie. Unfortunately for both of us, this e-mail is not to offer you a job or anything (yet... but we shall see what the future holds, lol) but rather it is praise for your audiobook.

I got it last year at the Las Vegas Creation Convention. Unfortunately, I was out there working so I missed some parts of the convention, including your part, although I very much wanted to see it. You see, De is my absolute fave of all of Trek's incarnations stars...he is also the ONLY one that I never got to meet. (He died when I was in college). I have met all of the other ones, either in the line of business or various conventions over the years. Ironic that he's my favorite and the only one I never met. (In fact, I recently finished a video for the Department of Defense and LeVar was our emcee - part of the reason I was there last year.) Anyhoo, your book changed that for me. I'm 3/4 through and I feel like I know the man, and he sounds as wonderful as anyone could ever be. Carolyn too.

As for you, you have a wonderful personal way with words, I felt like I was there with you listening to your book. You and I have a lot in common, we both work in the "biz", we both love De, and we both found ourselves caring for a loved one in their declining years.

This brings me to my actual reason for writing: to say thanks. You see, my grandfather, who raised me and is the closest person in my life, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (blood marrow cancer) back in March. He is 81, and has good days and bad days. He lives in Naples, FL which is 4 hours frrom me. I make the trip back to Naples whenever I can get time off, which is usually about twice a month and spend 3 or 4 days there each time. I give the full-time aide days off when I'm there and take care of him, body and soul, personally the entire time I'm there.

As I said, sometimes he is good, hardly requiring anything, other times Chemo has been so tough that I have to help him bathe, dress, go to the bathroom, eat, put lotion on etc. etc. Anyway, you said it best when you said caring for a loved one like this is the most unsettling but at the same time rewarding thing we could experience.

I listen to your book on my long drives to and from Naples every month and it has made me laugh, cry, smile, pass the time, ponder life's unanswerable questions...but most of all, it has helped me in my current crisis. I sometimes leave his house and turn his care back over to the aide with a heavy heart and get back into my car for the ride back to Orlando and back to my life.

Then I listen to your book, your feelings in detail, how you took care of De and your mom...and I feel I have a friend who knows what it is like, and I take comfort and advice from it...and I love De more and more, he reminds me of my papa. ;)

Anyway, I'm usually not one for soapy scenes so I'll sign off now. Sorry I was so long-winded, just wanted to say thanks. I'm going to the con in Vegas next week again- wish you would be there this year!

Take care, hope you are doing well.
Stacey L. Cook

Needless to say, if I ever feel "slighted" by a reader's review at Amazon, I have a number of emails from people like Stacey who have read (or in Stacey's case, listened to) the book and truly benefited from it, so the very few one and two star reviews don't rile or touch me much, really (they're just a little ouchy, 'cause I'm alive and sensitive!). I just wish everyone had come away with what Stacey has, and that the book did for all others what it did for her.

Anyway, I apologized for not getting back to Stacey sooner, and received a follow-up, which I will also share with you:


Well better late than never! :) I was very pleased to hear from you, thank you for your kind words. To start off, let me say, yes, of course you may publish the e-mail. :)

Now, let's catch up. A lot has happened in the 6 months since I wrote that e-mail to you, so I'll update. My beloved papa died. However, everyone in the family seems to be doing very well.

When I wrote you that e-mail in August, papa was having a good month. In fact, it was the best month he had since he was diagnosed last March.

I had a feeling that August was his last hurrah. I was right. He got very sick in the middle of September and died on Oct. 7. I spent a few days a week with him those last couple of months going back and forth to Naples from Orlando, and that last week I was there w/ him round the clock, holding his hand when he died.

I finished your book shortly after I wrote to you. In some way, it gave me the strength I needed and the knowledge of what to expect. Papa died of cancer as well.

It was very sad and very difficult but at the same time, I believe I was as prepared as I could be when the time came. As soon as I finished your book, I got "Caring for aDying Loved One through Your Catholic Faith" and that helped too.

Papa's last week was so surreal. He was experiencing the phenomenon of "Nearing Death Awareness," talking symbolically and living both in this world and the next...talking to relatives and friends who died long before but was with it enough to be able to know me and tell me who he was talking to.

It was scary but amazing all at the same time. It was a comfort to know he had so many waiting for him when he died. I recognized the signs and was able to pinpoint the day of his death through my own intuition, what hospice said, and what he was telling me. He came home from the hospital w/ Hospice on a Saturday and I calculated in my head he had about a week and a half...and he died a week and a half later on Tuesday.

I was able to call all his relatives in NY and they came down. Many many family and friends and clergy came by to see him and say good-bye on Monday. (He had slipped into a sort of coma on Sunday) I'd say he had about 70 people in and out of his big Italian family house on Monday, and he died Tues morning at 6:10 am with his closest family around him. (His 3 kids, me - his granddaughter but really like his 4th child - his wife, and closest sister).

Like I said, it was so sad but at the same time so spiritual and timely. Everything happened just as it was supposed to...I truly believe that and the one thing I never thought I'd be ready for, I was. Strange.

My grandmother (his wife of 62 years) is doing very well. We got her a live-in companion...the niece of my boss, and it is working out beautifully. She calls her grandma, takes her everywhere, gets along great with my family. She was really a God-Send and my grandma just loves her.

The rest of my family is doing well too after losing the patriarch. Well, I think I've talked your ear off long enough about all this...but like I said, I feel like I know you and owe you a thanks. :)

How are you these days? According to your blog, still writing, that is great. Good for you. Do you have any plans of any more convention appearances? I'd like to buy you lunch one of these days!

Stacey Cook

Stacey, if I ever get to a convention you're at, we'll definitely do lunch! And if you're ever in the Seattle-Tacoma area, let me know: I'll drag out all my De stuff and we'll have a De fest! You made my day with these emails!

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