Author shares proceeds with counselling centre

·5 min read

Beachburg -- Author Dawn Dube was amazed when she realized her recently-published book has touched the lives of some of those who have read it, compelling them to reach out to her.

It’s the life of Kathleen Cameron, her mother. The book progresses from a time without electricity to today’s technology world.

“It’s a memoir of my mom’s life,” she said. “The story parallels world events and history.

“If you’re interested in history, which I am, it takes you from the Great Depression to the Second World War, to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and either her involvement or reaction to world events.

“Mom suffered mental health issues, she suffered from anxiety, depression,” she added.

Ms. Dube decided to help others who have been affected by mental health issues by donating some of the proceeds from From Coal Oil Lanterns to Face Time, to the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre in Pembroke.

She never knew why her mother suffered from the mental health issues until after her father died in 2005.

“Mom never talked about her family history, her life as a child,” she recalled. “When my father passed away in 2005, something clicked. I wanted to know more about my family history, and it took until Mother’s Day of 2015, when she was in her 90s, for her to actually tell me her story.”

Looking back, Mrs. Dube said following the death of her father, she and her mother, Kathleen, were sitting at the kitchen table with a green pot of tea opening sympathy cards. When a $20 bill fell out of one, she picked it up and looked to see who had sent this card.

“I said, ‘Oh mother, this is from Rhoda’,” she recalled, asking, “Who’s Rhoda?

“And she didn’t answer. So, I asked again. She looked at it, gave it back to me, not saying who it was.

“Was it somebody you worked with at Simpson’s Sears?” she continued. “Mom replied, ‘No. Rhoda’s my sister’.”

It was an aunt Mrs. Dube knew nothing about.

Over the next few years, she began writing down things her mother would tell about her life. But it wasn’t until 2015 she began entering details into her laptop.

And what family history she discovered and why her mother suffered from mental health issues.

Mrs. Dube said she became excited for the book for two reasons. The first is it’s an historical book for the family.

However, with mental health issues now being spoken about, people read the book and discovered how they too were affected by similar issues.

“There are a variety of mental health issues; it’s so widespread,” she said. “People just didn’t talk about it years ago.”

When she realized she wanted to have a book published, Mrs. Dube sent out abstracts to various publishers. She was surprised when someone from FriesenPress contacted her.

After talking with a publicist with FriesenPress, he told her, ‘Don’t do a vanilla memoir. It won’t get reviews, people won’t get touched by it.’

“He was right. Within a couple of weeks of the book being published, I’ve received 40 comments from people who have been, in some way, shape or form, touched by this book,” she continued. “It’s a memoir, so I had to tell the sad sides, the joyous sides.”

Mrs. Dube said it was fascinating for her to hear the details of the family history, adding she had never been afforded details before.

She even met family history, when she and husband Pierre, along with her sister and her husband, and a cousin went to meet Rhoda. While it was hopeful her mother would meet Rhoda, it didn’t happen because she had died.

“It was just fabulous,” Mrs. Dube recalled. “She was so kind and loving to us.”

The book took years to complete, Mrs. Dube said, noting it takes quite a while because along with compiling it, there’s always drafts that need re-writing or correcting, as well as life to live.

“I started writing it, but then, you know how it is, life gets in the way,” she said. “Our family was suffering with mental health issues, the flood of our home, I was still working, so it was put on hold.”

Mrs. Dube recently presented a proceeds cheque to Monique Yashinskie, founder of the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do, given the mental health issues that are spoken about in the book,” she said. “I went to meet with (Monique) when I gave the first cheque.

“She’s amazing. She lost her son (to mental health issues). But she’s also had some major health problems herself.

“She’s a very sincere, warm person. I loved talking to her.”

Writing is not new to Mrs. Dube, having been in the public relations department of Algonquin College for 30 years – 20 in Pembroke and 10 in Ottawa, before retiring in 2008.

“I wrote press releases, speeches, profiles of staff,” she said. “I just didn’t sit down and decide to write.

“I love to write,” she continued. “I have a drawer downstairs in a dresser that’s pretty full of journals.”

For those interested, Mrs. Dube will be the guest speaker at the Whitewater Seniors Office (the former Scotiabank building on Main Street in Beachburg) on Friday, September 16 at 10:30 a.m. She will also be the guest speaker at the Beachburg Public Library from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 8.

You can purchase From Coal Oil Lanterns to Face Time on Amazon.ca or send a message to Mrs. Dube through her Facebook page, pierre-dawndube, to make arrangements for pickup or drop-off.

Connie Tabbert Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader