By Terry Helwig
Terry Helwig has a beautiful way with words. She is a gifted author, but also a special person. In her very touching memoir, Terry shares her story of growing up with a mother who is bipolar, and very often seemingly out of control.
Terry never gave up on herself, life, or even her mother. The oldest in of a household of six girls (one of which was actually a cousin); Terry was the mother-figure. At times she had to be mother to her own mother, Carola Jean.
Growing up in the 1950s-1960s, her early family memories were of her time with her biological father and paternal grandparents. This carried Terry through many later situations. The farm life and closeness of family were of stability and security. Terry remembered these things. Yet even then, Carola Jean’s absence was obvious and painful for the little Terry. The sense of abandonment was difficult.
When Carola Jean came back for Terry and her little sister, it was to go back to the Southwestern area of the States. This meant a transient life with stepfather Davy, and new baby sisters regularly. Terry persevered as the big sister and Carola Jean’s biggest supporter.
Terry’s stepfather, Davy, never gave up on Carola Jean either. Forced to move from place to place with his oil rigging job, he remained a constant for Carola Jean and his family. Purchasing a mobile home, Davy moved his family with him. He was determined to keep them all together, providing the best home that he could. During her childhood and into her teens, Terry attended 12 schools in 11 years while still managing to keep herself and her sisters together.
I love Terry’s bravery and resilience. Her memoir is filled with compassion and acceptance, and consequently, forgiveness.