Alberta author of Seven to Seventy: A Journey through Time Lavera Goodeye is launching a series of book signings, the first of which will be held at the Coles at Parkland Mall in Red Deer on Jan. 16th between noon and 5 p.m.
Goodeye’s memoir, an insight into her own life and the relationships that reflected her own journey to become who she is offers readers a portrait of her struggle, and how with care and support it is possible to find the light.
Along the way, she also discovered a talent for helping others to improve their self-esteem and competency while learning to deal with loss. That came through not just writing, but further education and engagement with the community on several fronts.
“It was in 2008 that I sat down and got really serious about writing it,” she said of the book, which essentially chronicles her life’s journey. Goodeye, who today calls Coronation home, begins by relating how her grandparents immigrated to homesteads on the Alberta prairie before trains provided transportation.
Her parents met and married during the drought and depression of the 30s. She and her two sisters were born during World War II.
Sadly, religious turmoil, mental illness and tragic loss to suicide were all part of her young life. But she persevered, grew up and eventually established a family of four sons. Her mother had taken her life when Goodeye was just seven, and her husband passed away in his early 40s.
“She had been in the mental hospital for a whole year,” she recalls of her mom. “And she had been taken away when I was three.”
And although she was very young at the time of her mother’s death, she has very clear memories of her. “I was lucky enough to spend probably a year or two with her after she got out of the mental hospital.”
Goodeye would eventually marry again and would later create a business around the skills of her troubled second husband, who passed away in the mid-1980s.
She then hoped another degree would allow her to do development work, only to have those hopes dashed. Even so, she found new ways to pursue her mission to help others improve their lives.
“I was using my experience to work with people in the areas of being a support worker in the north, and also doing upgrading with native people. I also knew that mental health was really something that in the rural areas we have trouble getting help for,” she said. “So in my process, I read many books that helped me to get over the grief and the loss and to understand suicide. I wanted people to read my story and to gain, as I had gained from others.”
Penning her own experience has also opened all kinds of doors to connecting with others over these very issues. She has found that writing about her life has brought a strong sense of healing as well. Not that the process was always particularly easy.
“There was some pain. I expected to have some sadness as it was going along, but I think I had more sadness when it was completed,” she said. “I was disappointed at that point that I didn’t have the computer to go to everyday.”
But through it all, there were a multitude of personal benefits. One of the key ones was a restoration of faith.
“Through the process of these four years that I was writing, I was going to church. And I started by sitting in the back pew and crying through the songs that I had enjoyed as a child.
“I really found my way back to faith, and I’m now a big part of the church community here in Coronation – the United Church. It was a real plus that I wasn’t expecting.”
Although the book was and is a stepping stone to helping others through her example, Goodeye will also be hosting workshops and healing circles later in the month as an extension of the kind of support that she can provide to people trying to overcome their own issues. She loves to chat with folks who drop by a reading or a signing, and finds it fulfilling to hear of their experiences as well.
“A lot of times, I think it’s kind of a private experience with the reader,” she explained of the book’s impact. “They feel really close to me while they are reading it.”
Ensuring it had an accessible style was also paramount. That dedication has indeed made it an effective tool to reach others.
“I didn’t want to make it an academic process, so I just had to use my own voice and be as honest as I could be with what I was putting on the page.”
For more information, check out www.laveragoodeye.com.