THE GULAG P-PA DIARIES
A Bittersweet Memoir of Grandparenting
Genre: Memoir / Christian / Humor / Grandparenting / Family
Publisher: CKN Christian Publishing
Date of Publication: April 22, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
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As new empty-nesters, Harriet and Preston next looked forward to becoming grandparents. Their journey to assuming the names of Mema and P-Pa, however, took a tragic and unexpected turn.
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As a mother, grandmother, and humor writer I really enjoyed reading this account of the fun and frolicking the author and his wife, Harriet, have with their grandchildren. There were so many clever things done in the book, starting with comparing the week-long visits with four grandchildren coming to their house as a detention camp. That theme of pretending to treat the kids as inmates coming to a Gulag was the foundation of so many of the very entertaining anecdotes.
The lengths that P-Pa and Mema went to to make the visits as much fun as possible was a tribute to first-rate grand-parenting, and I’m sure the inmates will treasure those weeks of internment with fond memories. From the special toys, meals, treats, and movie-making, no effort was spared to make unforgettable moments.
While I enjoyed reading about those visits, I could also relate to the way the author admitted to feeling some relief when the kids left. I know that feeling. And I know there is also a bit of a let down after a particularly fun time with the grands. The author wrote about enjoying the peace and quiet for the first time in six days, but he followed that with, “Bottom line. We survived, though the Camp Mema Compound is a smoldering wreck that may take decades to rebuild without government aid. Even so, you might say we are suffering from post part ’em depression after one of the most fun weeks of our lives.”
Early on in the book the author points out that the big difference between being a grandparent and a parent is that grandparents can form more of a friendship with grand-kids which entails all of the playing and the fun and very little of the responsibilities. But parents need to maintain that stricter presence of parent and authority, because that is part of their responsibility. That doesn’t mean that parents can’t play and have fun with children. But good parenting has boundaries that grandparents can trample all over.
It was great fun to see how the Grands, as the author refers to the grandchildren, grow up and mature with each visit to Camp Mema and P-Pa, and that fun was in stark contrast to the chapters that recounted the family’s grief over the death of the first grandchild, Benjamin.
The chapters that weren’t diary entries shared memories of Preston and Harriet’s early years of marriage and family life. There was humor there, too, until coming full circle to more details about the loss of Benjamin, and how he was never forgotten. Within those words, I could feel the slight shadow of sadness that there was one grandchild who never grew up to enjoy coming to Camp Mema and P-Pa.
This is a book to be enjoyed on many levels, and I highly recommend it to parents and grandparents of all ages.
Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.
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Book signed by P-Pa (the author), Mema, and The Grands
Book signed by the author
AUGUST 4-14, 2020
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|8/5/20||Author Interview||Forgotten Winds|
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|8/12/20||Review||It’s Not All Gravy|
|8/13/20||Review||Reading by Moonlight|
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