Interspersing passages from my memoir with narrative, I concluded with the scene when I boarded the plane in Albuquerque to fly back to Reston, Virginia, to find John, who has become seriously ill, in the aisle, unable to get out of a narrow wheelchair into his first-class seat. When the flight attendant, incensed because he has not been able to load the plane because John is in the aisle, barks, “Lady, I suggest you and your husband take another flight.” I respond with, “We have to go to Dulles. We’re not getting off this plane!”
The questions and discussion that followed my reading were straight-forward. I was asked if I were writing my story now, would I change it in any way. I said that I might have been more reflective, more critical of myself for not delving into John’s diagnosis to better understand it. I see now that John didn’t level with me about its seriousness. At the same time, I feel that understand why he could not.
My second memoir is another slice of my life, when I was in my 20s and 30s. It was triggered by my opening a trunk filled with letters, journals and memories much like ghosts that had haunted me for a long time.
I'm Shirley Melis. You may know me as Shirley M. Nagelschmidt, Shirley M. Bessey and now, Shirley M. Hirsch. Each reflects a particular phase of my life. Banged-Up Heart is a slice of my life's journey and in telling my story, I'm giving voice to my long silent "M" by reclaiming my maiden name, Shirley Melis.