Sunday, June 14, 2020
Karen Lynch’s "GOOD COP, BAD DAUGHTER – memoirs of an unlikely police officer" is #003 in the never-ending series called THE MAGNIFICATION OF ONE MEMORY IN MEMOIR
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Were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? I had originally named the book The Floating World, but an editor suggested the final title and I loved it.
What is the description of this memoir? The story is about growing up with a counter-culture family, bi-polar mother in San Francisco and how that experience led me to become a San Francisco police officer.
What is the date you began writing this memoir and the date when you completed the memoir? I began writing the book in 2011 and finished in 2013.
Where did you do most of your writing for this memoir? I wrote at my desk in my bedroom.
What were your writing habits while writing this memoir- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on the laptop; specific time of day? Because I had just finished being treated for cancer, my impetus was to write my story so my children would have it if I didn’t make it. I binge wrote several sections, writing non-stop for long periods of time. The illness gave me a sense of urgency. I wrote a few sections by hand but mainly wrote by laptop.
Out of all the specific memories you write about in this memoir, which ONE MEMORY was the most emotional for you to write about? And can you share that specific excerpt with us here. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer, and please provide page numbers as reference. My mother nearly bled to death when I was five and I remember it vividly. That section was one of the more difficult to think about and write.
“Mom had put on some weight since New Jersey. Her belly protruded over the elastic waistband of her stretch pants. We’d only been home a few weeks when she woke up screaming in the dark, doubled over with pain.
“Dave, take me to the hospital!”
We ran to the car and Dad sped to the emergency room. We rushed through the hospital door, blood gushing from between Mom’s legs and flooding her favorite loafers. The red was garish and startling on the fluorescent white of the hospital floor. As I ran behind Mom, slipping in her blood, a nurse grabbed my hand and hurried me to the waiting room.
“Sit here and wait for your dad.”
A policeman was the only other person in the room. He was sitting in a plastic chair, leaning over his magazine, and looked up as I came in. I noticed his hat in the seat beside him. I had never seen a hatless policeman before. He seemed naked without it, an imposter.
“How are you?” His voice was deep and raspy.
During the adventure Mom had warned me not to talk to the police. I wondered if it would be OK to talk to him now that we were home.
“Would you like a Lifesaver?” he asked, holding out his pack.
That settled it.
“Thank you.” He let me take the red one. “I don’t like the green ones.”
“Me neither. Nobody likes them. Why do they even make green ones?” He had a generous smile. “You might as well sit down. Looks like we might be here a while.”
“I’m scared,” I quietly told my shoes. My formerly white sneakers were now mottled with red splotches. I was worried Mom would be angry I got my shoes dirty.
“Don’t worry. It’ll be OK. Here, take the pack.”
I wondered how he could be so sure Mom would be OK, but I figured since he was a policeman he might have some inside information. I took the candy and decided to think about some- thing else.
After a while, Dad came in. His face was white and his hands were trembling. He took my hand and stared into my eyes.
“Your mommy is very ill. She may die. Do you understand what that means?”
“Like the baby in the park?”
“Yes, like that. Do you want to come with me to see her?”
He led me into the treatment room. It smelled terrible, like the Mr. Clean my mother used to mop the kitchen floor before she stopped doing housework. And there was another smell—a sensation, lingering, filling my mouth with a coppery metal taste.
The nurse shook her head at Dad. A white sheet covered all of Mom except her ashen face. Dad looked over at Mom and let out a small yelp. Then he covered his mouth with his hand, as if to keep more from escaping.
“Say good-bye to your mother, Karen.” Slow-motion tears snail-trailed down his cheeks. I bent down and briefly put my lips on Mom’s cool cheek. Her eyes were creepily glassy, and she didn’t move when I touched her.
“I love you, Mommy.”
A week after our trip to the hospital Mom was back home, and Dad and I were perched on the end of her bed.
“Let me tell you. Bleeding to death is a horrible way to die!” Mom always said “haarrible” with her New York accent. “I was so thirsty! I was dying of thirst! Then I was floating around above my bed, looking down at my body and the doctors and nurses trying to save me. I could have just floated away. But I thought about you, Karen, and I knew I had to come back. I came back for you!”
Karen Lynch was a police officer and an investigator for the San Francisco Police Department for 29 years. After a bout with breast cancer, she decided to retire and write.
Her memoir, “Good Cop, Bad Daughter-memoirs of an unlikely police officer,” is being developed as a television series.
A native San Franciscan, and proud Cal Bear, she has been married to Greg for 30 years. They have three children. Their youngest adopted from China, was the subject of an award-winning essay “The Road to Kyra.”
Other publications include: Lucky Drive essay in Transitions anthology, NBTT
Publications In the Long Run essay published on Manifestation
Thorazine essay in Shades of Blue anthology, Seal Press
Last Tango in Toontown essay in Orange County Register
THE MAGNIFICATION OF ONE MEMORY IN MEMOIR links
03 18 2020
“Two Minus One”
by Kathryn Taylor
03 19 2020
by Terry Kroenung
06 14 2020
“Good Cop, Bad Daughter – Memoirs of an Unlikely Police Officer”
by Karen Lynch