- Publisher: Crescendo Press
- Available in: Hardcover, Kindle
- ISBN: 0989504735
- Published: August 19, 2015
Betty Ann Hoehn ’76 writes under the pen name BA Austin.
“As I watch the glowing orb of the sun dip below the horizon line of the infinite Pacific Ocean, thoughts race through my mind like the waves that crash intermittently along the shore below me, sometimes with force, other times with a calm and startling peace, not one ripple to be found. Sitting on a park bench upon these Southern California cliffs, gazing at the vastness before me, I feel transported to a place where time and space have no boundaries, no definition. While golden rays reflect off the shimmering water, I find myself reflecting on the life I’ve led these past six decades.
“It’s funny how after all these years the Pacific Ocean and that mighty, muddy Mississippi River from my past can become one, the passage of time seemingly inexistent. I walk through long corridors of my mind, trying to remember everything. Trying to gather the pieces, retrace steps, discover the meaning behind each moment. Reaching into the past, I see shades, hints, and whispers of the person I am today, the mother and grandmother I have become. I don’t feel that far removed from the little Southern girl I once was. Always beside me, first in person and now in spirit I feel profoundly, is the steady, gentle presence of Karine.
“My dear Karine, what would my life have been without you? I dare not imagine. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, I was raised by three people: Mom, Dad, and Karine. Though my childhood was a privileged one by many standards, lived in comfort and relative ease, it was Karine, the lovely black woman who cared for me as if I’d emerged from her own womb, who gave me strength to overcome challenges that loomed like storm clouds over the horizon. She was my rock, my spiritual teacher, my refuge. From my innocent childhood days along the mighty Mississippi River, to my college years by the stormy Atlantic, and on to my life as a grown woman by the endless blue Pacific, I have been nurtured and sustained by her love.
“Even though she’s long gone from this world, Karine is the one person who has remained with me to guide my steps. How could I ever forget her? She is a vital part of my very being. Our hearts, though broken open time and again, are forever intertwined.
“If my conscience has a face, it’s the tender, smiling countenance of Karine. When I doubt myself, she is the one who whispers, “I have faith in you, child.” When I am about to set off on a path to self-destruction, she is there, trying to gently nudge me in a better direction. I can feel her selflessly guiding me at every juncture of my life, her spirit somehow seeing me through great joys and personal lows, always lifting me back up when I need redemption.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. As I rest here on this park bench on the cliffs high above the Pacific, let me try to piece it all together from the beginning, from the days when I was a little tomboy with soft strawberry blonde curls blowing in the fresh Southern breeze …” —From the publisher