The Enemies Within Us

PI Dana Bowman from the Beyond mysteries introduces  Sharon A. Crawford’s new book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir

Sharon wrote a memoir about her childhood back in the grey ages – 1950s and 1960s. Blue Denim Press is publishing it. Love the book’s title and wish I had co-authored it. Sounds like a mystery, but the book is way beyond that.

 

Big Drum Roll for The Enemies Within Us by Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

 

Beware not the enemy from “without,” but the enemy from “within.”
– Douglas MacArthur

We interrupt Dana’s Intro for breaking news from Sharon:

Drumroll: The virtual book launch was a huge success. It was fun – lots of laughter and some seriousness as I read a few excerpts from The Enemies Within US – A Memoir and was in the hot seat answering questions from both my publisher and from guests. My shortest answer was “Finishing it.” To find out the question and see the rest, here is the video link:

Dana here again. Where to buy The Enemies Within Us

copies available at Amazon and Chapters/IndigO
Amazon for those in Canada
and at Barnes and Noble
in toronto, ontario, canada, available in-store at Danforth Book City, 348 Danforth Avenue – currently curbside pickup only. more Info call 416-469-9997

Also available directly from Sharon A. Crawford. Email samcraw@sympatico.ca for how.

Also see Blue Denim Press for still more information
as I say on our Crime Beat Confidential TV show

Over to you, Sharon A. Crawford.

Thank you, Dana.

The Enemies Within Us has gone through many versions and many titles over the past 18 years. Also there were many detours, such as writing newspaper and magazine stories, starting, and still running, a writing critique group, teaching writing workshops, editing for clients. But the biggies, that reeled me in to continue writing and rewriting my memoir were moving back to Toronto from Aurora, and particularly my family – past and present. The dedication in The Enemies Within Us says it all.

Dedicated to all of my family past and present– Mom and Dad, my son Martin and his partner Juni, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Family – eccentric or not – defines who we are. We may not all have gotten along; we may still be in flux. But that is the nature of families. I have learned and continue to learn much from all of you and am grateful for knowing you.

So, what is The Enemies Within Us about? Who are these enemies lurking within? The back cover summary might give you a hint.

“Your dad has cancer.” Ten-year-old Sharon hears these words. Not from her parents. They lied. Set mainly in 1950s and 1960s Toronto, this  is Sharon’s story before and after Daddy’s dirty little secret surfaces. Before, she is Princess to her elderly father’s King. He protects her, a shy only child, from best friend, The Bully. Sharon also deals with a bullying nun at school. She distracts herself playing baseball and piano, riding the rails with Mom and railway timekeeper Daddy, and visiting eccentric Detroit and rural Ontario relatives. After learning the truth, Sharon withdraws from Daddy. At 13, she teaches Mom to play the piano. Then Daddy gets sick again, and again…and dies.

Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer.

Mini Reviews

Sharon gently pulls the reader into her late ’50s/early ’60s childhood.We feel, alongside her, the security of a loving home and the tragedy of losing beloved parents, and we root for her as she finds an inner strength. 

—Sheila E. Tucker Author of Rag Dolls and Rage: A Memoir

Sometimes we learn about grief too young. Sharon Crawford grew up with a daddy who contracted cancer, and in THE ENEMIES WITHIN US, she takes us through what that was like with feeling, with wisdom, and even with humour.

— Brian Henry, Writer & Creative Writing Instructor

How is the story told? The memoir’s Introduction provides a clue.

My present-day senior self meets my little-girl self. We join forces to tear apart what really happened growing up in Toronto, southwestern Ontario, Detroit, and New York City back in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, especially when your Daddy “gets” cancer. To do this, we both contribute to the story. I invite you to walk backwards in time in our shoes—the little girl me and the senior me in The Enemies Within Us. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

Photos and short chapter excerpts will appear  below on a rotating basis.

With winter came ice skating, something my parents (despite my timidity about it) were determined to teach me. Daddy and Mom each played their part as I tried to stay upright when on skates. Although this is not a photo of  my skates, mine were like this pair.

Chapter 3 – Protecting the Princess

Skating Excerpt -Learning to Ice Skate on Home Rink

The two did collaborate once, when my sixth birthday rolled around. That’s when they decided I needed to learn to ice skate. As my oddball elderly parents, they had to put their own personal twist on the teaching process. So, Daddy constructed the ice rink, and Mommy got me moving on it.

Daddy turns on the hose, and out pours cold water. Overnight it freezes on the dormant grass in the backyard. I never think how the water passes through the hose. Wouldn’t it be frozen? Does Daddy put his ear to the lime green radio and listen to the weather reports to see when the daytime temperature sits around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit then) or just below? When night falls, so does the temperature, and in the morning—magic—instant skating rink.

Then Daddy turns it over to Mommy. Like a dance instructor trying to teach steps to a nervous wannabe, she grabs my hands and tries to set me in motion.

“Come on Sharon. Just slide your feet, one foot in front of the other.”

My feet, tucked tightly into new white figure skates, scrape and totter along the ice and my fingers dig into her hands; her mittens no protection for the hard, petrified squeeze I give her. I do not want to fall. I might break a leg. I’m terrified of losing control, so carry on clinging to Mom as she steps backward, sometimes in her rubber boots and sometimes in an old pair of Daddy’s black hockey skates. I follow forward like a drunken clown.

Two winters of this private slide and lurch pass by. Then my eighth birthday arrives. “You’re ready for Dieppe Park,” Mom says.

The big time. Dieppe Park has two enclosed hockey rinks and one large pleasure skating rink. Mom and I walk down Greenwood and along Cosburn Avenue. When we arrive, Mom takes me into the cold changing room. She assists me as I shiver into extra socks and the skates; then she laces them up.

“Is this tight enough?” she asks. “Better make it tighter.” She pulls on the laces until I think my ankle will stay straighter than a lamppost.

Then she hands me the skate guards, which I grab with my left hand; my right hand takes hers and I push my bum forward. I try to imagine I am standing but it seems strange and impossible. But I get up. It feels as if I am balancing on stilts the width of a sliver and the weight of a brick. This is not the way I want to see the world better, and I imagine that the world’s eyes are staring at me as Mom walks, and I teeter out the door into colder cold. When we arrive near the ice, my left ankle starts to wobble.

“Sit down here, and I’ll fix it.” Mom points to the bench.

I grip the seat and, like Frankenstein’s monster, plop down. Mom unlaces the offending skate, purses her lips, grunts, and yanks on the laces. If my lungs were in my ankle I would suffocate. She reaches the top of the skate and ties the laces into a bow, followed by a knot.

Then she turns me loose. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

Teaching Mom to Play the Piano

Excerpt from Chapter 14 –  Don’t Look Down – Ever

I am pushing 13 and decide I can teach Mom, now in her mid-50s, to play the piano. Maybe I figure five years of learning Bach, Beethoven and Chopin on my pink roxatone piano provides sufficient credentials to instruct. Now that Daddy is back home and back to work, Mom and I are left with the aftermath of his life/death ordeal. Maybe we can use music to heal, even to survive during this supposed return to normal routine. Or perhaps it is a diversion before the inevitable.

So there we sit, Mom and I, side by side on the piano bench. A mirror on the panel above the keyboard reflects our fingers, perched to perform.

“A Car Eats Gas,” I say to Mom as I point to the white keys—A, C, E, G—straddling the middle of the keyboard. “That’s middle C,” I add. I’m following the methods of my own piano teacher, Miss Garlick. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

Sharon A. Crawford photo

I still have that piano, down in the bowels of my basement rec room.  As you can see, it really is pink. The pink finish is called “roxatone.”

copies of The Enemies Within US are available now at:
Amazon and Chapters/Indigo
and at Barnes and Noble
in toronto, ontario, canada, available in-store at Danforth Book City, 348 Danforth Avenue – Currently curbside pickup only. more Info call 416-469-9997

Also available directly from Sharon A. Crawford. Email samcraw@sympatico.ca for how.