Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Letter to Evan by Roy Page


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!


You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:



Roy Page



and the book:



A Letter to Evan


Lucid Books (April 19, 2013)



***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



ROY PAGE is CEO of Third Degree Advertising. He jets between North Carolina and Oklahoma to keep his business and family going. Losing his father to Alzheimer's disease and his wife of twenty years set Roy on a path to reset his priorities, discover the good in people, and dream of a better future. Laugh, cry, relate, grow, and heal with Roy in A Letter To Evan.

A 1984 graduate with a degree in marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and with over 20 years experience working with a broad range of consumer and business-to-business clients, Page is the founder  and CEO of Third Degree Advertising with offices in Oklahoma City, OK, Durham, NC and San Diego, CA. Having served as an associate professor in advertising at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Advertising, Page is also author of the book Credit Union Savvy, which offers a collection of insights gleaned through years of working with credit unions across the country.

These days, a great deal of Page's time is divided between Oklahoma City and his native home of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina as his way of keeping both family and business going.  An avid sportsman and outdoors enthusiast, he especially loves spending time with his children and family on his 17-foot Boston Whaler on North Carolina's Inner and Outer Banks.

Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Divorce changes everything. It is disorienting, painful and disruptive. One dad steps forward to illustrate how to rise above the destruction of divorce, become a better person, and yes, even a better father to his children. Roy Page exposes his heart in A Letter to Evan. What began as affirmation and instruction for his son has become a journey of healing, growth, and inspiration to men everywhere.

Being a loving, effective parent when you are not a part of your child's daily life is challenging whether you are a father who travels or is divorced. Roy Page shares how he has maintained a presence in the lives of his children. As a man who enjoys hunting, fishing, sailing, and woodworking and possesses a deep desire to share these times of adventure with his son, Roy learns to navigate his extensive travel schedule along with Evan's hectic baseball schedule to find a way to connect. Even if it means writing a letter.




Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Lucid Books (April 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935909568
ISBN-13: 978-1935909569



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




A LETTER FOR MY SON





February 6, 2011



Dear Evan:



Receiving a letter from your father in this day and age of cell phones, technology, texts and Facebook may seem strange. Perhaps it is. But I hope you can grin and bear it just this one time. . . .



Our family was caught in a boat in the open seas when an unexpected storm blew in. How had we strayed so far from the shore? Our ship wasn’t built to handle the powerful storm. It began to snap and break under the extreme pressure until a rogue wave tossed us all overboard. My son, my daughter, my wife – well my ex-wife – were all separated from me by blinding waves. I allowed my body to be carried to the waves’ crest to gain a vantage point in trying to search for them, but I was being tossed mercilessly just as they were.  With every ounce of strength committed to survival, exhaustion quickly set in. Where was hope? Where was rescue?



My storm manifested itself in the form of Alzheimer’s disease that took my father away from me long before he died, and twenty years of marriage that experienced its own slow erosion before finally being buried in divorce; and my business of fifteen years being tossed about with the rest of us, trying to stay afloat until some form of help would surface, though I didn’t know when or if rescue would actually arrive. It was the perfect storm. Despair, heartache, and tears rained.



My son was surely experiencing this violent flow. He was in the sinking vessel along with the rest of our family, but he appeared to be unfazed. For the most part he remained silent, trying to understand, and support both his mother and me. On top of that he was diagnosed with an injury that had the potential of destroying his baseball dreams. At only sixteen he was navigating a personal storm that was all his own.



I knew deep inside he was feeling more than he was saying or asking. I knew he had just as many questions as I had. But as men, we are taught to be resolute, to show little emotion, to tough it out, dig deep, and keep going. While society is starting to embrace men who cry, that isn’t really what others expect in men.



I needed to talk to Evan, but that was easier said than done. Not because he wouldn’t listen, but because I wasn’t sure I could find the right words. Many times, I’ve started conversations and left out much of what I wanted to say. Other times I’ve broached a subject, then received a look or reaction that caused me to change course. Worst of all is probably the ‘no reaction at all’ response that motivated me to turn my heart-felt conversation into a letter.



This time, it was important for me to say everything that was on my heart. There was a lot of emotion in it. Many of my emotions were not always positive toward my personal situation due to the anger that had manifested over such a confusing time; however, the emotions toward my son were all about my love for him. I wanted to choose each word carefully, express my complete thoughts and cover all of the thoughts in my heart at that time.



In writing the letter to Evan, I was also looking for the opportunity to heal a bit of my own pain and guilt. That I admit. The pain of failure in my marriage, separation from my children, and loss of life as we had known it cut deep. Guilt is a constant companion to a parent who is not with his children. It followed me everywhere.



I wrote the letter over a period of time, tucking it away in draft form, and then returning to it as more of what I wanted to say surfaced. Over the next two months, the words and thoughts continued to flow until I was finally satisfied with the words on the paper. I felt I would know when the right moment presented itself to share it with Evan. It needed to be a time when he was ready to receive the message intended only for him.



I can’t speak for everyone that endures divorce with teens in the home. I know that for me, the words in conversation never seem to come out right. There’s just too much confusion, pain, and emotion. Much is said that shouldn’t be, much is never said that should be.



Something needs to be said to calm the fears of this new unknown territory, especially for teens that have a limited perspective and limited knowledge of the years and events leading up to the demise of their families as they know them.



The experience of our family no longer being together all of the time came out of nowhere, just as thunderstorms $air up at unexpected times and with little warning. My son Evan had no real opportunity to seek shelter from the damaging, harsh elements. One day Dad was home, the next day he’d moved out. There was no warning, no conversation.



Evan was left to figure out the causes of our separation and discern on his own the meaning of recent events, based only on what he was told, his observations, and perhaps even fantasies that he himself created in his own mind. I’m sure at times he even sheltered blame and felt as if somehow he too was responsible for the breakdown in his parents’ marriage. I couldn’t bear the thought that he would feel any form of responsibility personally.



Months before I decided to write Evan a letter, I began to look for a professional and spiritual perspective to the turmoil of my life and landed in the office of Dr. Curtis Nigh. During counseling sessions, I often inquired about how to speak to my children, and particularly Evan, not because he meant more to me than his little sister, but because he was older and more insightful. He was observant and processed his environment with much more wisdom. Dr. Nigh consistently informed me that while children may not need all the details of the marital breakdown, the more information they were given about Mom and Dad’s outlooks, the easier it would be for them to cope. Also, our children needed to know they were loved and cared for by both of us. Joan and I had our problems communicating with each other. That was sure. We needed to put aside our own personal bitterness in order to protect our children’s emotional well-being.



Dr. Nigh encouraged me to open the door for Evan to ask questions or simply talk about our new reality. I often wondered, and still do, “What is Evan thinking and feeling?” I knew the uncertainty weighing on my heart and mind, so I knew he must have been feeling something also. But what was it?







One of Dr. Nigh’s recommendations was simply to provide a safe emotional environment for Evan’s expression, when and if he was ready. I would at times make a comment or pose a question that would provide Evan permission to talk, express his feelings, or ask anything he wanted. Generally, the comment or question was something in the realm of “This sure is a different Christmas than we’ve had in the past, isn’t it? What do you think about it?” Or “I know we don’t see each other as much as we used to. How are you feeling about that?”



Teenagers may say a lot to their friends, but mine would say very little to me. We’ve always been close. I’ve also always respected the privacy of Evan’s own thoughts. If he didn’t have much to say or ask, I let it go at that. He seemed stable and reassured. Ever since our separation, I’ve texted him multiple times each day and called him on his cell at least once each day.



While my phone calls weren’t always returned immediately, my texts to him were most always answered within minutes. That’s the teen way today. I had to learn to adapt to him as much as I expected him to adapt to me. (It is worth noting that we’ve both found a great balance between texting and talking.) A text may not seem to amount to much, but these short yet frequent connections made me feel more a part of his life at a time when we were physically apart. This was something I needed regularly, and I hoped it showed him that I was thinking of him and cared about him.



I’ve never been one of those fathers that didn’t hug his son or say “I love you.” Hugs and “I love you”  come very natural to me. I always end my texts with “I love you, Son.”  Since I wasn’t physically present to express it through my actions, I wanted to make sure I expressed it through my words, which was the best option both of us had at the time. When we’re away from each other, I take what I can get, when and how I can get it.



I’m sure my own need for connection with Evan was stronger than his need to connect with me. Dr. Nigh warned me that feelings of guilt may at times deceive me into believing that Evan might be experiencing the same emotional separation anxiety, when in fact Evan was doing okay. As a Methodist pastor, Dr. Nigh knew that the evil one would often surface in the form of guilt within me. Satan will use guilt as an instrument to confuse and disorient, but I should not allow him that foothold on me. I admit acting falsely out of guilt is a difficult temptation to resist. I found myself working very hard to hold back that feeling, and more importantly, keep myself from acting in haste to a perceived emotional state in Evan that was nonexistent.



By writing a letter to Evan, I could take the time I needed to embrace and filter through my emotions. While not able to remove the feelings of guilt and the anxiety of separation from him, I was able to filter through what were true emotions and the reality of the situation vs.  spontaneously  acting  on  feelings or emotions  that  were  merely  fleeting  thoughts  or worrisome flashes of fantasy. The letter allowed me to think about what I was communicating, and if it wasn’t what I wanted to truly say, then I could rewrite or edit. Perhaps  most  importantly  for  me,  it  provided  a platform for my own healing and recovery, so it was my hope that we would both find some form of benefit.



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