I had to share a little story. After my recent brush with eternity over Christmas and subsequent test of endurance to regain my strength and vitality, I went off the grid in order to meet months of deadlines for my upcoming book of Yellowstone essays while striving to be Super Dadda for my audacious six-year old baby girl. I couldn’t be more excited to share that I recently sent off my final edits for my soon to be published memoir/book of essays. With spring in the air, the next BA chapter is about to begin.
Late last week I received an advance reader copy of my soon to be published book of essays. I hadn’t shared it with anyone, because I knew the perfect timing would be today. This dream of seeing my book picked up by a major publisher and in print wouldn’t have been possible without the love, support, coaching and unwavering confidence of my mother who is a phenomenal writer and author of eight edgy and beautiful novels (check out: April Christofferson.com). Today is my mom’s birthday and she is hopping a plane to Seattle to sit with her mom—my audacious Wyoming raised grandmother—for what may be the last time. It will undoubtedly be an emotional journey.
Before starting my daily/morning writing session–which on Tuesdays takes place at a funky little coffee shop here in Bozeman–I dropped by my mom’s house with flowers in hand along with a little present. When she opened the book, she held it in her hands, as tender as if it were a newborn and cried strong tears of overwhelming joy and pride. After months of anguish and heartache during my recent health saga where she thought she might just lose “her boy,” these were tears that had built up like the surging spring snow-melt, water molecules accustomed to flowing, instead trapped behind the floodgates of a dam, but once unbridled the ability to flow again brings uninhibited solace.
In flight, my mom will read the book’s dedication (a tribute to Kamiah, my mom and dad along with the acknowledgements, a passionately written thank you to all who have supported this Yellowstone journey of mine), and tonight she will sit beside my grandmother’s bed, in the shadow of the Space Needle, where I spent my formative years, and read my grandmother essays from “Mikey” about her wild Wyoming home. There are few women in this world I have loved and admired more than my grandmother. Only her daughter (my mother), and her great granddaughter (my daughter) have inspired me more. And now, while my grandmother’s feisty spirit still breathes life into those around her, my mom will share with her my memoir, my Yellowstone journey, that began five generations ago when her grandfather pushed cattle over a century ago into the Cowboy State. She represents all that I teach to the young people I have the opportunity to work with: resilience, love, courage, toughness, character, while remaining scrappy, gritty and full of passion.
Fourteen summers ago, I married my now ex-wife at the foot of the Tetons in a little cowboy chapel to honor my grandmother. And today, with her daughter by her side, simply knowing my grandmother will hear my reverent words of hope, inspiration and transformation; words that fill the pages of the book she will hold in her hands, essays that she helped to inspire, breathes into me an ineffable level of peace and gratitude. Today, there is a knowing that GG will always be by our side as Kamiah and I explore the enchanted landscape of our beloved Wyoming.
That my friends, is the power of the word and the human spirit.
With nothin’ but love,
~Michael W. Leach