The Beauty of Ordinary Lives is a 42 page tribute to my parents, a companion volume and supplement to my autobiography Born into the Wrong World. It is available at Lulu.com and at
I was fortunate in that I chose my parents well. John Wilfred Cauthen and Nancy Beulah Harris Cauthen were ordinary folks from rural Georgia. They taught me what unconditional love was by their words and actions. I will be forever grateful to these wonderful people who demonstrated the beauty of ordinary lives. This little booklet is a loving tribute to them. I focus on their last years as they confronted the necessity of giving up the home they loved and moving to a nursing home to spend the rest of their days.
Suitcases in the car, it was time. Mother held the kitty and said a long, sad, lingering farewell to her "Baby." My Dad gave me a big, tight hug, flung wide his long, skinny arms, and exclaimed with passionate resignation, "Goodbye, old house." I led one and then the other to the car, put the old, ugly wheelchair that had been Rosalie's in the trunk, and got in beside them. We all took one last look at their home place and drove off. When we arrived, Mother remembered something Rosalie had said when she came to make this her home years before. "This is the place where you come to wait to die."
Some time ago my Mother told me about a couple several years ago stopping in their driveway and coming to the door. They asked directions to the nursing home where we now sat. In the back seat of that car sitting very still and drawn up was a sad, unsmiling old grey-haired woman looking very scared and downcast. It took little imagination to figure out what was going on. Now I sat at the door of this same unwanted but needed refuge, somewhere to live that was not and could not be home, a place both forbidding and welcoming, a sanctuary that promised care and safety without ceasing to be dreaded as the place you go when nowhere else will do, where you don't want to go but go anyway because you have to, the place where you come to wait to die.