Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging



A Journey of 75,000 words begins with a Single Keystroke

imageSomeone asked me if I had a list of characters, backstories, outlines before I began writing BRAKING POINTS.  I did not.  What I had were two elderly characters based in part on my father and mother-in-law, a trunk full of true episodes involving road trips, some mine, some others, including more than one from my in-laws, Maurice and Dorothy.

One story told over and over again happened in the early stages of Dorothy’s Alzheimers.  They were traveling from Oklahoma to Florida where they had a park home in New Port Richey.  Dorothy had curled up in the back seat, which she often did, and fallen asleep.  Maurice stopped for gas in Mississippi, filled the tank, and had gone inside to pay, when Dorothy woke up.  She proceeded into the station to use the facilities.  Somehow he failed to see her.  So climbing back in the car, he glanced in the backseat,  saw her blanket and assumed she was still curled up asleep.  In his defense, Dorothy was a slightly built 4’10” woman who slept all scrunched up.  Off he went.

A hundred miles down the road–how far he actually got is debatable since stories like this one lend themselves to hyperbole–when he stopped so they could eat, he discovered she was missing.  Since this was before cell phones, he laid the pedal to the metal, and headed back to the place he last glimpsed her for sure–asleep in the backseat.  No telling what had gone on back at the station, those details are sketchy, but he found her sitting on a bench out front.

“Dorothy, why did you get out of the car without telling me.”

“I had to pee.”

He apologized to the station attendant who had been keeping an eye on her–they were ready to call the local authorities if he did not return soon.  Thankfully, she was fine.  She looked at the attendant and said, “see I told you, he’d be back.”

Maurice escorted her to the passenger side of the car, got her settled and kept one eye on her the remainder of the drive.

My mother-in-law drifted away from us over the next several years, but Maurice stayed the course.  So when I started Braking Points I found myself on an incredible journey with Max and Lily.  While on that excursion I wrote around 1500 words a day but they were basically unplanned.  In my imagination, I was following along observing and recording it.  Amanda popped up at one of the early stops and later Sophia joined the trip.  Every day I came to the computer excited to find out what happened next? where are we going? who are we going to meet?

A friend and fellow author read the book in its raw form and said ‘you need to follow this one and find Olivia.’

If you want to know who Olivia is, you gotta read BRAKING POINTS.  Just Saying….


Announcing the Birth of Braking Points, the Novel

Weighing in at 320 pages

Several years ago a novel wrote me. It took me on a journey that began with a contest for a first chapters of unpublished authors–no, I did not win. Still like conception, cells divided, a heart beat was detected, life exploded within me.

There were no charts, no outlines, no forethought of characters or backstories. Only a vague idea of an elderly couple setting out on a road trip. So I accompanied them, my feisty 87 year old protagonist and his wife with dementia. So for the next 9 months, yelp! just like a pregnancy, I put at least 1500 words on the page almost daily. Turns of event, characters emerging, surprised me at times. I read it to Terry every night. His advice helped shape the book. It is dedicated to him.

I based the characters Max and Lily in part on my husband’s parents. Terry’s Dad, Maurice was firm in his commitment to care for his Mom, Dorothy as Alzheimer’s robbed her of memory and personality. I completed this book before my father’s-in-law death in 2011, so he started reading it only to come to me with tears in his eyes. “It’s too soon after [Dorothy died in 2004], maybe I can read it later.” He never did. He was 93 when he died.

I think his emotional response led me to shelf the book for several years. However, time passes. I am getting old myself–right?! I AM Old. There is a verse in the Book of Esther that paraphrased says, “Perhaps, you were born for such a time as this.” Perhaps BRAKING POINTS was born for this time. So with an acknowledgement that all mistakes are mine, Here is my Book Baby #1.

I hope some of you will check it out, maybe even read it AND if you do please rate it and write a review.

The Power of a Grateful Heart–Mindful

I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me. (Psalms 19:14 NCV)

“A Mind is a terrible thing to waste” Motto of the United Negro College Fund since 1972.


Here I am propped on three pillows, considering the capacity of the mind, my mind, anyone’s mind. Certainly one quality of being created in the image of God, the ability to think, reason, choose, plan, the mind of human beings most closely mirrors our creator.

And yet, we all know that not all human minds, no make that not one human mind, comes close to the creator’s. We have seen the effects of genetic mutation, injury, disease and neglect on human minds. We have encountered those with genius either personally or through their works. We have been graphically led by the media through the aftermath of acts committed by those with twisted minds. We know that what we fill our minds with matters.

A Mind is a terrible thing to waste” And yet, sometimes I treat my mind less like a gift from the Creator and more like a garbage dump. I found myself stewing over a Facebook post, that did not concern me and certainly did nothing to make me a better person yesterday. I worried about today when it was still tomorrow. I allowed myself to sink into a brief depression. I read scripture, but did not meditate over it. And when I tried to fall asleep last night, it all came crashing so that I had to wade through it, bag the trash and pray before I could get my mind to rest so I could sleep.

A Mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I watched the ravages of Alzheimer’s steal my mother-in-law from us over the course of many years. I know that no matter what the disease did to her mind that God still held her in his grasp, but to witness the decline of Dorothy devastated us all. It seemed such a waste of human spirit and I had to keep reminding myself that her spirit and the Holy Spirit still resided within her frail body with or without her mind. It was hard to say good-bye when she died, but I sense as she ascended to heaven her mind, body and spirit were whole and clothed in Christ. For us it had been a LONG good-bye.

“A Mind is a terrible thing to waste” So on this final day of November 2013 I am thankful for my mind and seek to use it to explore all God has for me in each day I have left here on earth. I want to fill it first with Love for God and then Love for others. I want to consider things that matter, not things that shatter. I want a mind with thoughts like God recommended through Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9 NCV)

I want to be someone whose mind daily gains ground, clears the mine fields of toxic thoughts and memories, a mind more like Christ’s everyday. To have a mind of joy and peace requires a mind active in the things of God. So for as long as God chooses to let my mind work in this world I want to fill it to overflowing with good so that what tumbles out of my mouth, off the tips of my fingers, in my expressions and actions helps others see God.

So if my earthly mind begins to be pockmarked with dementia, my life will have had purpose in the building of the Kingdom of God. Because the motto of the American Negro College Fund stands true for ALL :

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Jesus answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NCV)


Open Letter to Readers of Braking Points

Dear Readers,

In a few minutes I will post the Epilogue to BRAKING POINTS. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those who have followed Max, Lily, Amanda, and Sophia’s journey. I wrote the novel in 2004-2005, while Terry and I were living in Pembroke, KY in Christian County. Max and Lily are based in part on my mother and father-in-law, Dorothy and Maurice Kisler. Dorothy had Alzheimer’s disease and Maurice chose, in fact refused all other options, to become her primary caretaker. Dorothy died November 21, 2004 at age 86 in her home with her two sons, her daughter Kaye preceded her in death in August 1987, and her husband Maurice at her side. Maurice lived to the age of 93, dying in his home during a horrible snowstorm February 7, 2011 in Tulsa with his eldest son, Maurice Lee by his side. On December 6th that same year, my mother, Ada Marie Ivy died at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa after developing pancreatitis and pneumonia. My mom was 89 years old and still mentally sharp right up to slipping into a coma hours before her death.

We often hear of “coming of age” stories, but I prefer to write “coming of OLD age” stories with multi-generational layers of characters, like the Carnes Family. My world owes so much to the generation that raised us and my world would not be complete without my children and grandchildren. I love having friends who are younger and older so much of the material I write about comes from their stories. I love that God allows me to pursue my passion which is writing and that He is my ever present friend, companion and muse. I told Terry when I was writing BRAKING POINTS and reading him segments daily that I could hardly wait to get to the keyboard after a day at work, so I could see what Max and his entourage were up to. I wasn’t even sure when it would end, but then I knew as I wrote Chapter 27.

Again I am grateful to those of you who have read this book in serial form for the past month. I would appreciate comments, questions, and suggestions. And as I promised, as soon as I publish this, I will publish the epilogue. You can comment on the website or on Facebook, but please take just a moment to do so.
Blessings on you all and remember if you get a head full of steam over something, say the Lord’s Prayer before responding, better than counting to ten.

Love to you all,