Marcella's Secret Dreams and Stories book

"This is perhaps the finest jewel in Barbara’s publishing crown as she blends together and enhances three generations of family history."

Barbara Brabec's Memoir and Biograph about her mother, Marcella



6x9 Paperback
338 pages, 46 photos

AMAZON in Canada





Table of Contents

Although you won't find this title on the shelves of brick-and-mortar bookstores, you can go into any bookstore in the U.S. and special-order the book. If you'd like to read this historical American biography without cost, please ask your local library to add it to their collection. (Available to them through Ingram.)

THIS NEW BOOK by Barbara Brabec—posthumously co-authored by her Mother through recorded conversations and writing done decades ago—tells what happened when Barbara sat her Mother down for a nostalgic chat when she was near the end of her life.

Marcella wrote her last words 25 years ago, but they live on in this book and illustrate the sacrifices mothers everywhere make to help their children bloom and grow and succeed in life. This book is not only for the sons and daughters who love their mother or the memory of her, but for every mother who has a little-known story to tell about her family’s history and her own life journey.

DID YOU EVER LOOK at your parents and wonder what kind of romantic relationship they had when they first met? Ever learn something about your mother or father that was so surprising you couldn't believe the topic had never come up for discussion before?

Ever think that perhaps the dreams and ambitions they had when they were young—long before they were thinking about getting married and having children—were as important and exciting to them as your young dreams and ambitions were to you? And do you know if your parents ever realized their secret dreams and goals?

Sometimes it can take a lifetime for all the pieces of a puzzle to come together. It took Barbara Brabec more than twenty years to finally see the whole picture and decide to write this book about her mother's life and legacy for the family—and also to inspire others to write a memoir.

Eight years before she died, Marcella wrote the story of her life in a private memoir for her three daughters and brother. Typed on the manual Smith Corona typewriter Barbara had used in high school, it contained surprising historical facts and delightful never-told-before family tales, revealing Marcella as a gifted writer and storyteller. But what the memoir didn’t mention were Marcella's unrealized secret dreams as a 16-year-old girl.

Barbara would not learn about them until her mother was in the last four years of her life. On that life-changing day, she gave Barbara a bundle of papers and letters that made her jaw drop, put her head in a spin, and showed her a secret side of her mother that no one in the family had ever seen before. Marcella thought she was just an ordinary woman, wife, and mother, but in truth she was quite extraordinary for her times.

Now Barbara has artfully woven together the memoirs of two authors—a book within a book—to tell a true-life story of three generations of a Midwestern farming family going back to the 1880s. The authentic dialogue, stories, and unusual collection of letters in this book offer a mixture of history, humor, drama, and pathos.

In completing the story of Marcella's inspiring life and accomplishments with present-day reflections from her sisters, Barbara illustrates the importance of their mother's legacy to the family and challenges readers to think about the life story only they can tell—one that should be shared with their family and perhaps the world.

THIS TRUE-LIFE BOOK offers something special for anyone who happens to be a sister, wife, mother, grandmother, or widow; or an entrepreneur or home-business owner; or a mechanic, musician, teacher, writer, nurse, pianist, sewer, needleworker, or crafter; or anyone who loves cats or dogs, books, antiques, nature, or traveling with an interest in American history.

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Online Photo Album. Click HERE to begin this unusual pictorial journey. You will find several photo categories which you can view in page sequence, or selectively, given your interest in the various category topics from which to choose.

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WRITING THIS BOOK about the life of my mother and her legacy to our family has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my entire writing life. It has also been life changing for me and my two sisters—Mary and Mollie—who were there with me on this journey from start to finish.

Before I could write this book, I spent a year just studying all of Mother's writings, including her youthful writing, her diaries, and a large collection of family letters. It took some time and effort to get both my sisters to share their letters from Mother because they’d always considered them to be private. We had saved every letter she wrote, and when we each counted our collection, we were stunned to learn that she had written more than a thousand letters to the three of us.

And when I pulled together the most interesting content from those letters, what we learned about her and ourselves was simply astonishing. That’s because she always wrote "in the moment," telling each of us things the other two never knew.

Eighty-six of her letters are included in this book because they supplement the stories she told in her private memoir, around which this book revolves. For example, several of those letters talk about her entrepreneurial ventures in detail; others present a fascinating story of what it took for her to go back to school at 54 to start a new career and become the family’s primary breadwinner.

Marcella also kept detailed record books that documented all income and expenditures from 1935 until she died. Most interesting to me were what things cost in the 30s and 40s when she and Bill were farming, and what it took to build our home and his garage business in Buckley, Illinois.

One day in studying the memoir she wrote for us in the last decade of her life, I suddenly saw that, without ever being encouraged by her to do anything but pursue our individual dreams and goals, my sisters and I had actually done all the things she had dreamed of doing when she was sixteen. I also saw that the way she had lived her life had dramatically shaped our character, moral values, dreams, goals, and adult lives as a whole. And that was her real legacy to us—a legacy of words and love and a life well lived.

The joy I’ve had in this writing—being the narrator of my mother’s life with stories of my own supplementing hers—is indescribable. Marcella yearned to someday see her name on a book, so I’m thrilled to finally make that dream come true posthumously. I believe this book will touch the heart of every reader while also providing an education in what life was like before computers and the technology we take for granted today.

I hope it will also inspire readers to look anew at their own life and family history and think about the life story only they can tell.

"The best thing about writing from life is that you can be sure of using original material. And no research is needed beyond the time you spend looking deep inside your own heart."

- Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means

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Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Brabec. All rights reserved.