Creekstone Press

Northern BC's publisher


Review of Searching for the April Moon

Growing up in Nelson and then in Prince Rupert, Nancy Robertson found her mother’s shy attempts at sex education totally unhelpful. But one thing her parents, Dorothy and Danish-born Ole, did do was set her and her brothers a spectacular example of married love.

“Mom and Dad taught us the basics of love and kindness when she ironed his shirts and he polished her shoes. When he drove her to church and she cooked his favourite roast beef dinner. When they hugged and kissed. When they bickered and made up,” Robertson writes in Searching for the April Moon, a set of 15 personal essays that add up to a memoir.

Her parents’ 57-year marriage blended decency with physical attraction. Ole, who managed a dairy and later worked for a milk producers’ association, would greet Dorothy with a kiss at the end of each workday. The affection was there for all to see.

Robertson’s essays look mostly at her parents’ later years, chronicling the slow, sad but often inevitable process by which a child becomes the parent of those who gave her life.

The essays don’t unreel events in chronological order; rather, they skip from theme to theme.

At one point, an aging Ole declares he will no longer file an income tax return (“They can throw me in jail for all I care. I’m not doing it”) and Robertson is forced to take over the chore.

At another moment, the man who once took pride in being impeccably dressed is shown in hospital, “old and frail, stained and whiskered.”

Robertson writes more extensively about her mother, a model homemaker who discovered a passion for organ music at 50 and went on to enjoy a late-life career in Prince Rupert as a church organist and piano teacher.

She lived into her 90s. In old age, a series of small strokes left her babbling incoherently for long spells. At the end of one of these, she looked at her daughter and asked, “How will it all turn out?”

Robertson, who is in her 60s, records her successes at managing her mother’s elder care, such as transfixing her and fellow extended-care residents with a reading of Richard Wright’s Clara Callan.

And she tells of one lapse that haunts her still: Her failure to check in on Dorothy one day led to her mother’s being flat on the floor, unable to summon help, for long hours.

Robertson also tells some of her own story. She writes of finding love after a bad marriage, of trips to California’s Imperial Valley, Baja California and Europe, and of raising two children who grew up to be a credit to her.

Hers is not a dramatic life played out in one of the world’s hot spots or metropolises, but it has interest because she has taken pains to be honest and get the events, the people, the motives and the emotional colouration exactly right.

Web link to full review