Micki, this is for you, my friend. I finished your incredible book and posted this review on Amazon.com and Goodreads. Please let me know if there is any other location where I should list it. I am truly touched and awed by your story.
Rarely does one encounter a biography which is so powerfully poignant that it is life changing. The spears and arrows of familiarity in Micki Peluso’s story strike deeply into the heart of my own life and I can identify with so many of the hilarious, tragic, frightening, and heartwarming moments. My heart is so full. I struggle to find the words to capture the full range of my emotions.
Having grown up in the northeastern United States, I felt as though Micki’s story were a little of my own. Micki and Butch married quite young, in a unique double ceremony with Micki’s mother. From the first, their lives were filled with challenges. As quite frequently occurs, the babies began coming before there was enough money, before the young couple even had the chance to realize what marriage was all about.
Over the years, the young family encountered multiple challenges. Butch’s loyalty to his employers often warred with the needs of his family. Micki was sometimes left to be both mother and father to a growing number of young children, battling insects and poor housing, the instructions from well-meaning family members, sick animals, the elements, and patched together vehicles. Despite all of this, the family remained close and hopeful.
The Pelusos sought the panacea of “Lost Vegas”, but the glitter of the west unfortunately did not result in a gold mine of prosperity. Harkening back to the more familiar mountains of Pennsylvania, the family found anchor in Williamsport, in a huge house capable of holding their large brood. What they didn’t realize was that the old homestead was haunted! Strange sightings of misty images undressing and getting ready for bed, shadows which crossed the room, and potatoes bumping down the basement stairs made for an interesting life style.
Overshadowing this story is the counterpoint, the tragic motor vehicle accident which has stricken fourteen-year-old Noelle. The family is left with a terrible choice: allow their daughter to linger in a horrible state, kept alive by machines and responding only with her eyes, or to disconnect life support. No parent should have to make such a terrible decision. Even after her passing, the vibrant Noelle continued to make her presence known, by bringing new life into the world on the date of her passing, by speaking to the family members in dozens of marvelous ways throughout the years.
Indian legend claims that the whippoorwill’s song is a death omen. Indeed, anyone who has heard its mournful cry as night steals over the land will own up to the sense of doom it engenders. And yet, in the farming community, the whippoorwill’s song is a wake up call from the gloomy, often frigid winter days. For now, it is safe to plant, to begin anew, time to embrace life in all of its many facets.
This, I believe, is Micki Peluso’s message. This is a story not of tragedy, but of the power of men and women to rise from the ashes of tragedy and meet life head on. We are, indeed, at our best when things are the worst. If Noelle were here today, she would want us to dance, to turn cartwheels in the fragrant autumn leaves, to love while we may, to grasp hands to pull us from the doldrums and rise, heads high, toward the brilliant sun.