Agony and Ecstasy of Finding my Voice: a Memoir


I learned late in life, my mother thought when I was born with a cleft lip and palate, God was punishing her. This was shared with me by her older sister. As I reflect on the agonizing battles I had with mom, I’m sure my rebellion against her domination of me only reinforced that belief.

This memoir will take you from the despair of my childhood as a kid with a harelip, cleft palate and speech impediment to the agony of completely losing the voice I so lovingly found when I was starting my master’s degree in School Psychology. Then to my disbelief I became a laryngectomees at the age of 73.

The journey is one of many transformations in my life, each leading to dimensions of self-awareness and personal capabilities far beyond the disfigured and below average kid I thought others saw me as, throughout the childhood years I spent with my mother, father and brother.

It lays the foundation for the creation of this book and many others I began writing two years after I lost my voice to thyroid cancer in 2010. My writing is the voice I’ve found again. This is perhaps my final transformation.

Until the time I became a graduate student, I harbored the belief people heard me with the speech impediment of a cleft palate. Then one of the most amazing transformations of my life happened and my professional career expanded exponentially.

You will see my life as a child, teenager, medical corpsman, college student, graduate teaching assistant, Associate Professor of psychology, college/university administrator, adjunct professor, business and organization development consultant, entrepreneur and author. It’s been an amazing journey and one I never expected to take because of my physical disfigurement, and speech impediment.

The last part of my journey deals with my present experience, which in my wildest dreams I never imagined would haunt me again. My voice was taken from me and once more I’ve had to deal with trying to get people to understand me when I’m trying to talk to them, this time with an artificial voice.

It is a story not only of moments of dark despair, but of wondrous transformations through which I was able transition into rewarding personal triumphs. You’ll see how significant the beliefs I’ve held about myself have been in creating the world I’ve lived in. In the end it’s a story about using my love for writing fiction as the voice I’ve lost to cancer. I’ll show you glimpses of various adventures I’ve written.

Even though I love to write, I find it difficult to the point of impossibility to describe how meaningful it has been to me to be loved and supported by my wife Margaret, my children James, Ann, John, my grandchildren and great grandchildren and all others who’ve touched my life with love.

I regret not telling those who are now gone how much their support during my struggles to save myself from my own despair meant to me. The love and support of all of them has been my salvation and given me more happiness than I thought could exist for me in this lifetime. That happiness has gained depth as I’ve acquired the wisdom to see how family, relatives and friends have made it what it is. I love each and every one of them far more than I can find ways to express with the written word.

As my journey continues, I hope you will follow me in my writings as I share what I call the second voice of my lifetime. It too has lifted me from great despair and given me the opportunity to communicate worlds of imagination that have brought me far more pleasure than I thought I would find again.

Perhaps, you will find my fiction stories as enjoyable to read as I’ve found them enjoyable to write. If that’s true, I will feel endlessly blessed. 

« Previous story
Next story »