By Patty Mahoney, M.C.
Jamie is an average child of the1950’s, except that her residence is so bizarre. She and her family live in a mortuary. She is such a frequent visitor to the embalming room there that her mother moves a child size pink chair into it. She is never allowed to express her alarm or disgust at anything she observes, nor is she ever shielded from the atrocities of sight, sound or smell that permeate her living environment.
Her father, Francis, devotes himself entirely to business enterprises, not because he enjoys them, but to fulfill his perceived duty to the dead.
Jamie’s mother, Gertrude, is so emotionally unstable, she is incapable of attending to the needs of anyone but herself. Her struggle is to get through the day without resorting to explosions of temper and outbursts of rage.
Jamie’s sister, Rosarita ,is the apple of Francis’ eye. She bears a strong family resemblance to him and gains his affection effortlessly. But, he remains indifferent to Jamie, in spite of her constant attempts to gain his attention.
Carol, her half-sister, is a bright spot in the family constellation for Jamie. A product of Gertrude’s first marriage, Francis is not fond of her, either. Jamie finds comfort with her half-sister as they share their feeling of family alienation.
She develops an array of defense mechanisms to deal with the trauma she faces daily. She tries biting her fingernails, then a series of compulsive numerical paradigms, and, later, a fixation on music, but each of these proves inadequate to cope with the horror around her. When she observes the preparation for burial of her well-loved young teacher, she slips into a dissociative state that finally relieves her feelings of repressed grief.
Frightened at first by the new experience of self-hypnosis, Jamie comes to use it as a shield against her traumatic environment. She discovers that the power of her own mind is far greater than that exerted by her family or her environment. From her new perspective, she finds her voice and becomes her own person.
About the Author
This is Patty Mahoney’s debut novel. She spent her childhood in Tempe, AZ where she lived at her family’s mortuary. She earned her undergraduate degree in Print Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Arizona State University. In graduate school, also at Arizona State, she completed three Masters degrees, one in education, another in school counseling, and a third in mental health counseling. Patty began her career teaching English and journalism at McKemy Middle School. For many years she worked at McClintock High School, first as an English and journalism teacher, and, later, as a counselor. She served as adjunct faculty at Arizona State, where she taught journalism and at Mesa Community College where she taught psychology. She went on to become a nationally certified counselor, working primarily with emotionally disturbed children. Patty retired from these positions several years ago. She resides at her condo in Scottsdale and her home in Sedona with her husband, Kurt, a retired psychologist.