Introducing Cohoes’ Newest Author Shelia Connelly
Shelia visited me not too long ago. She approached me on a Friday evening while I was working at the wine shop and in a very firm, flat tone asked if I had a minute to talk. At first, I thought something must be wrong. Since my coming to Cohoes six years ago, Shelia has always been a tremendous community/business supporter and I have never found her to be anything but extremely pleasant and upbeat, almost to a fault. Her seriousness startled me. She waited patiently for me to finish with several customers and then in a somewhat nervous voice, announced that she was about to have her first book published and subsequently delivered. She went on to say how she was publishing the book herself, it was based on her mother’s affliction with Alzheimer’s and she would very much like to be able to pedal her book at a wine tasting or to have special reading in the buildings. Well of course I said, “Absolutely” and congratulated her.
Not too long after that we sat down at a local diner and had an informal conversation about why and how she had decided to publish a book; more specifically a biography entitled A Memoir of Edna Connelly: My English Rose.
“What inspired you to write?”
“Well, I am a Cohoes resident, a 1966 Cohoes High graduate. I worked thirty –three years for the NYS Education Department as a secretary and never got higher than a Grade 6. I was an only child and I have one daughter who helped me with the book. I have two granddaughters…the book is entitled My English Rose…English for her birthplace and Rose because I considered my mother a delegate flower.”
Shelia’s mother, Edna, had come to the United States in 1946 as a War Bride and had settled in Cohoes. She worked for twenty-eight (28) years at Timpane’s Jewelry Store on Remsen Street in Cohoes. Prior to that she worked in Cohoes’ famous fiber mills. Shelia spoke of her mother as a hard working dedicated, well liked employee who tolerated a not-so-perfect marriage and is enduringly remembered by her daughter.
“My mother had the Alzheimer’s disease and I had to get out there and give the disease a voice… There was nothing I could do for my mom from 1989 to 1998….My granddaughters never got to know my mother and I thought this would be a nice legacy about her…”
“Tell Me about someone who/what has inspired you.”
Shelia explained that she had started a book a long time ago and had even written a piece about her father entitled “Gentlemen Jim” but it was a formal writing class offered at the Cohoes Library a couple of years ago that truly got her motivated. Her instructor was Maria Gorditt and her book is actually a culmination of her writing assignments from that class.
She had to write about … a day… a sense … a gift…
“My mother’s disease gave me the encouragement to write…by educating myself, I felt I needed to do whatever I could for the Association (Alzheimer’s)…a lot of families are living day-to-day, I wanted them to realize that they are not alone…there is still humor in living.”
“The last two years, she didn’t talk…before that, she talked about the war years. It was frightening.”
“By writing this book, I was able to lift my heavy heart and let go of the pain…I was able to relive a lot of stress by just sitting down and writing.”
“Were people supportive of your pursuit to write?”
“Yes. My writing teacher thought it was a good idea and thought it should be longer…writing a book was something I always wanted to do…something inside me kept saying to do this…I am not sure where the words came from sometimes…”
“I realized it would be hard to publish so I decided to publish it myself.”
“Maybe one day one of my granddaughters will follow in my shoes.”
My short conversation with Shelia that evening really inspired me. It was if she had a calling and knew actually what she wanted to accomplish and the best part is she did. I purchased a copy myself and caught myself crying, reflecting on my own raw emotions of somewhat recently losing my own mother.
Here’s to moms and for all the wonderful inspirations and hopes they pass on to their children, knowingly or not!
Congratulations to Cohoes’ newest author Shelia Connelly and best of luck with book sales!
A Memoir of Edna Connelly: My English Rose is available for $8.99. She has already sold a bunch and in fact, has sent several to England to her mom’s sisters and such.