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Published by Cathy Shields

Hi, I'm Cathy, a retired Kindergarten teacher, and a writer. I live in South Florida. I've been married to the same man for over 40 years. We have 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 3 granddaughters, and a grandson. The oldest daughter lives in New Jersey, and the other two 2 are fraternal twins. Both twins live nearby, except one of them lives in a group home. Jessica is now 35 and intellectually disabled. I always struggled with that. I felt like she was less than perfect. But as it turned out, she was my greatest teacher. Over the last 10 years, I've been writing a book about her. It's now a completed, 84,000-word memoir. The cover photo is a picture of us on a family trip. Naturally, she threw up on the plane ride up to New Jersey. She was reluctant to hike, she was scared of lots of things. But I was determined to have her go on our family trip. I've always had to help her. Looking back, I never realized how much she would help me. So welcome to my blog. I will tell stories about her and the rest of my family as we continue our lives together. I once heard a famous author speak about where she gets her inspiration for her best selling novels. She said something about the spirit of her dead grandmother whispering in her ear. She keeps a photo of her beloved grandmother right next to the computer screen. After I heard that, I put Jessica's photo above my computer, with the caption "Write about me." So I did. My online and local writing groups are urging me to continue editing before I seek out an agent. So I'm listening. That's another thing Jessica taught me. How to be patient. Well, I have Jessica to thank for inspiring me to write a book about our journey. The working title is "Another Side of Normal." I believe the story is destined to be told. My book opens on the day Jessica moves into a group home. It tells the story of how I yearned for her to be normal. It was a struggle with denial, and the eventual acceptance that she would never be. My greatest conflict came from straddling the world between the normal and the world of the outliers, people like Jessica who might be hard to understand and often act odd or different. It isn't easy being the parent of a grown-up disabled child. But she made it interesting. Thanks for joining us!

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