Several months ago, my soon-to-be 97-year-old mom announced she was writing a short play to be presented at the independent living facility in which she lives outside of Denver, part of a series of programs in honor of July 4th. My mother—an author of several books of historical fiction— had planned a talk on My Dear Hamilton, a novel based on the life of Eliza Schuyler, who would become the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
But then she thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Eliza could drop by?”
At that point, Mary Anne called and informed me that I was to play Mrs. Hamilton in her old age. Note here that my mother doesn’t actually asked. It’s more of a royal decree. (If you knew her, you’d understand.)
So, I spent every day rehearsing my lines and helping her modify the script. She worked on a costume and a set, which involved family heirlooms. She made posters and sent out invitations. She even catered a post-performance meal, where she promised me a cold glass of wine…if I did a good job.
I flew from Phoenix to Denver and spent a few days living at my mother’s facility, an eye opening-experience that gave me a solid look at what it means to be elderly. Dining with people, some of whom were approaching 100 years old, will do that to you.
Now, you might think me mean, but my mother had never been in a play, so I admit I worked her hard.
“Slow down, Mom! You’re saying your lines too fast!”
“Look up at the audience!”
“Cross the word out, if you can’t pronounce it right!”
“We need to do it again, Mom!”
“But I’m tired!”
“Remember, this was your idea.”
When we weren’t practicing, I’d find her in the hallways of the facility. “My daughter keeps telling me what to do!” she complained to anyone who wandered by. Then came the knowing nods from the old folks, sympathizing with my mother’s plight.
The day of the performance, we were greeted by a packed house, which I was later told was far from the norm. Not surprising, perhaps, since my mother spent most of her working life in public relations and marketing.
Now, I can’t say it went off perfectly. But, when it was over, the inmates…um….residents seemed delighted with the show.
“Who knew you had any talent?” my mother blurted out at our post-performance party.
That, in my mother’s world, is a huge compliment.
So…I just smiled.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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