Porch Swings and Prayer is a southern memoir about faith, family, and triumph over tragedy. Rob grew up in a rural southern town where hard work and diligent faith in God were two important principles. Early in life, Rob faced great adversity. This is the story of his journey to find a better quality of life living with bipolar depression. The love and guidance of maternal grandmother Bertie Mae and her faith-based life lessons serve as a catalyst for a happy ending.
In 1994 I took a position with a retail jewelry chain as a Store Manager. I had the education and experience of a leader and was grateful that I was recognized for the hard work and accomplishment. When I applied for the job, Bertie Mae sat in her swing with me and prayed that I would get the position and yes I did. She was a little sad that I was being relocated to the town of Huntsville, AL about a two-hour drive north of Jacksonville. Huntsville is home of a booming Aerospace industry including several NASA facilities. I was excited to try something new at the age of 22 and enjoy my first experiences away from home. I missed Granny and my other family members and friends as well, but I was excited about the new beginnings.
Granny never traveled much in her life. Her short trips to Birmingham were the extent of her “vacations” or sight seeing. Growing up in rural Alabama as a poor farm girl, Bertie Mae did not have those kinds of experiences or desire. I invited her to come home with me to Huntsville for a couple of days and she was ecstatic. She wanted to see where I lived, worked, and even told me, “Sugar, I just want to see where you sit when we talk on the phone so that I can imagine you there.” I couldn’t wait to entertain Granny in my apartment on Sparkman Drive in Huntsville. Granny and I loaded up my 1993 Nissan pickup truck and headed north. As we approached the town of Guntersville I told Granny not to be frightened but we were about to cross a large body of water. I drove onto the large bridge overlooking the Tennessee River and Granny sat straight up in the passenger seat looking around wide-eyed with amazement. She turned to me and said “this must be what they call the ocean?”
I laughed uncontrollably at Granny for a moment and explained to her it was just the river. She didn’t like my making fun of her and reminded me that she had never been anywhere in her life, how was she to know? Immediately the wheels in my mind started to turn. I had seen the ocean. We took a family trip without Granny when I was 16 to Myrtle Beach and I remember the amazing feeling I got the first time I saw the ocean and I wanted my 86 year-old Grandmother to have that experience as well. When we got home from Huntsville, I asked if she would travel to the beach with me and of course she told me she would go with me anywhere!
Two weeks later I took a vacation from my job, booked us a hotel at the beach and picked my sweet Granny up. My mother and her sisters didn’t like the idea at all of me hauling Granny off six hours from home just she and I. What if she had a heart attack or stroke? What if she fell and broke her hip? She didn’t care, she wanted to be with me and I wanted to be with her. My friends and coworkers couldn’t believe that I was taking my elderly grandmother to the beach. I should be partying with girls, drinking friends under the table, and dancing all night at Spinnaker on the coast. No, it wasn’t my style, I wanted to be with Granny and I wanted to share this experience with her more than anything.
We arrived at the coast and Granny couldn’t see what she was about to experience just yet due to the tall hotels on Front Beach Road. My excitement was building. We pulled into our hotel and walked into the lobby. I booked a room with a balcony on the eighth floor, so our view would be amazing. We carried our small bags to the elevator for the ride up. She was so casual in that moment, so relaxed. She really didn’t have a clue just how amazed and taken aback she was about to feel. I knew that she was about to see one of God’s most amazing creations and I just couldn’t contain myself. I opened the door to our room, ushered her in and threw the bags on one of the double beds. We walked toward the sliding glass doors to the balcony and I took her by the hand. I led her onto the balcony and when she caught her first glimpse her mouth opened wide and she literally stumbled backwards.
Rob Goodwin is an author, blogger, and motivational speaker. He has battled bipolar depression for more than thirty-five years and utilizes his God-given talents to serve as an advocate for those who suffer from mental illness. Rob has also enjoyed a successful career in strategic marketing and leadership. He is a member of the Ohatchee Church of Christ in Alabama and believes serving the Lord is his greatest responsibility. Visit Rob’s blog, “Emotional Victory” at www.emotionalvictory.blogspot.com.
Love this book! Couldn't put it down, it make you laugh and cry. Very inspiring and well written.
This book is as wonderful as they get. I couldn't put it down, as it brings you into the story. And from someone who suffers from mental illness its nice to know, I am not alone. I loved it.