Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for YouBreaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You by Amy Carroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having come to realize that from my childhood I tried to escape the stress of what was beyond my control by trying to control my own success through overachieving, this book jumped out at me when I visited a local Christian book store. I needed the read.

My path of burying myself in achievements, tasks and “success” as defined by a resume and society at large has done well for putting me logistically in a good position, but sometimes it makes me hard on myself. More importantly, it makes me hard on others. To try to be a better person, more kind, less judgmental and more merciful, I picked up this book. I’m hoping I can have more realistic standards for my home, my children, my husband and those around me. There is something to being able to achieve, but there is also something to being able to love without conditions, to be gracious instead of measuring and guiding other’s behavior.

Sometimes, prayer is more important than society’s view of progress. Often, enjoying the blessing is more important than trying to make the situation better. And this book will help me capture more of those moments.

View all my reviews

To my daddy…

randy and darcy

Dads are special. Many dads deserve a mention, a hug and appreciation today. In fact, my two children and I took my husband out to lunch today and showered him with hardback copies of the new Star Wars offical cannon.

cannon.jpg
(I’m going to read Rey’s part of Before the Awakening myself at the least…)

 

But this note is for my daddy, and men like him who sacrifice so much of themselves to be caregivers.

Daddy, you are a man of strength, a man who has over and over again had to use emotional endurance to support and care for those around you.

You came to all my home games for volleyball, basketball and softball then cheered on the weekends for summer league. You played catch with me each day after work when we lived in Utah. You coached my softball team for years and instilled in me a love for the game, but also a love for hard work and being a teammate.

You spoke candidly with me on long trips to the hospitals, told me the truth when times were hard, and respected my intelligence and treated me as a decision maker in the family with conversations that built me as a person. I was able to come to you with my problems because I had seen your honesty in your struggles, your faith when you stood against your fears, and how you loved wholeheartedly even in the toughest of times.

randy family
Dad as caretaker in 97

You carried my brother on your back so we could hike mountains together, pushed his wheelchair through sand so I could enjoy the beach as a child. You took me to the Fun Dome for lazer tag regularly with friends so I could feel the joys and adventure youth should find. You were the coolest dad on the block and my friends were easier to be around because you created opportunities for me with coaching and traveling trips. Somehow in all the chaos of what our daily life was, you carved out for me a spot to play, to mature, and to be myself.

I saw you share your Cheetos with Dustin and drink your Mountain Dew even after Dustin backwashed those Cheetos into your drink. As a habit of life, you put others first, and the unnecessary conveniences second. I’d like to learn more of that as I mature. I know I fail in worrying too much about things that don’t matter. There are times I wish I could be more like you in keeping Ultimate Worth in perspective and not chasing life’s goals past the goal of loving others well. You are a wonderful model of a man who inherently values each human life and wants above all else to touch another life with smile and simple joys.

You held mom’s hand at softball games, sat next to her, walked her pace, and involved her in real relationships you could both share joy in with other parents. So many times, you drove all the long hours from Kansas to New Mexico yourself to help mom enjoy her family. You taught me the manners of please and thank you and ma’am so I could fit in with the Southern Hospitality style of my mother’s family.

You were the anchor for mom as her world shifted and ultimately her earthly life ended due to a genetic muscle weakening condition that had been building in her since birth.  You took on all the burden of a man who married discovered a genetic disease in your family after the birth of a son with congenital myotonic dystrophy, poured love into your children no matter how different we were from any original expectation, and stayed married till death did you part to the most wonderful mother and a good woman.

randy and jo lyn
Mom and dad in 2010 era

You comforted me in the hospital when mom lay on her bed with a ventilator hooked to her neck. In fact, you tried to play caretaker for me and my newborn through the process. You tried to look after everyone else first before yourself. You have endured so much of what other men could and have walked away from. You embraced the boy Dustin was and loved him unconditionally. You embraced the woman Jo Lyn was and loved her unconditionally. You embrace the woman I am and love me unconditionally. You may be the most patient man I know.

randy and jo lyn2
Dad comforting mom in her final days in the hospital in 2011

You have helped me raise Eli to be a boy with a caring heart and curious mind. Hannah lights up every time she sees you enter the room. My children are the beneficiaries of your abundant love. You have been a gracious house partner in living with me and Daniel, and added wisdom and calmness to the mess that comes with parenting young children and being married in the modern era. We have learned so much from you. I have learned so much from you.

randy and darcy
daddy at my wedding in 2008

As I write this, you are preparing for your second mission trip overseas since losing mom. I admire how you have been a caretaker so much of my life. You have taken a heart shaped by what could be considered a tragedy, and turned into one of the most giving, understanding and patient men who lives life by following his heart’s yearning to serve. I hope you find a piece of your heart in Haiti. May there be many blessed by the intention in your heart as you practice servant leadership overseas.

I can’t tell you how blessed we are to have you living in our house and helping raise our children, a man defined by the desire to live a life of service, a man who so easily places others above himself, a man who could have been defined by grief but has rewritten his story around love.

You are amazing daddy, a true hero, a defining character, and no small part in how I can stand today to try to share my heart with others.

randy and hannah
Daddy with my children in 2016

I look up to you, admire the sacrifices you have made, am grateful for your love, and supremely blessed to be your daughter.

However, I want you to know, that the trait I see as most special in you, something I think not many could do as well as you, is your resilience. Some say that “what must be endured, can be endured”, but what I see embodied in you is beyond endurance – it is a redefinition of what is good and worthwhile in life. You are so resilient that after you outlived your caretaker role for your wife and son with a genetic and terminal disease, that you became caretaker for my healthy children, for me, and for those orphans in Haiti you are going to visit.

You have written your story in a way that enabled me to write mine.

I love you daddy!

I hope today finds you blessed.

I am forever inspired by your choice to live, live well, and live for others.

I love to see the joy my father shared with my children.

Moving and Shared Experiences

kansas map

I moved. About a year ago.

You know, I was a military brat growing up, so this should probably be no big deal. I’ve moved a lot in my life. But the last place I lived, Salina, is the one place I had lived longest in my life. I had been there from 99-2004 for 8th grade through high school. I went to college 20 minutes away and spent a good amount of time in Salina because it was the biggest town around the college. Then, I went back to my high school and taught for 7 years. People know me in Salina, or did. As a military brat I always think you can’t go back and still know anyone.

If I went to Wal Mart in Salina, I’d know 3-4 people on the trip. I might even want to avoid someone. Where I live now, I go to Wal Mart just hoping someone will recognize me and smile. I love where I live, don’t get me wrong. We moved for the right reasons and things are going according to plan. We are financially ahead, still near enough to family, advancing our careers, and in a great neighborhood to raise a family in. These feelings I am about to express are very much 1st world, no more than that, middle class “I have all my needs met” small town problems.

You see, I go to playdates scheduled on this orange sheet of paper I have magneted to my fridge, and I’m the only one there. And my kids want to play, but I don’t know what mom I can call to get them someone to play with. Or it’s 100 degrees out at my boy has been inside all day asking to play Minecraft and I want to socialize him with other children but don’t have the same social network or local indoor play resources to know where to take him to find someone he will feel comfortable playing with.

I miss my women’s Bible study I attended the last four summers that met 10 blocks from my house and was lead by my mentor teacher and department head. I even kind of miss going to the gym and putting my headphones in just so the regulars would stop trying to make conversation. I miss going to McDonald’s and seeing a former student or two there while I eat.

To be honest, this feeling is more prevalent now than other times. With my teacher’s contract, I have summers off. I’m about a month in to summer. I have book events, I taught some Google Workshops, I’ve had things to do. I’m not bored – this feeling isn’t boredom. But, when I’m working 40 hours a week, I don’t notice these things as much. I don’t actively seek desire playdates and coffee chats as much because I have regular adult interaction at work.

What I miss – it’s the sense of belonging to a community, of being known to the people around me, to having a shared history with those I share time with. It’s the relationships that are more meaningful because they believe as an educator I gave them or their family something, or the people who know they gave me something because they were part of my education as a Mustang. I miss the places in my community having a sense of belonging to me because I run into people I know there, people who want to ask me questions, people who know my family.

This sense of community I had in Salina, I have parts of already here in Great Bend. My kid starts kindergarten next year. I’ll make mom friends that way. I’m getting to know more teachers in the district after doing some district wide workshops. I’ve met most of my block of neighbors. I am developing relationships at church and have already been to two different Bible study groups. I’m resilient, well connected with my family and our circles, and generally socially acceptable (generally – I do have some weird quirks, work a tech job, and met my husband playing Magic the Gathering if that gives you any hints to my social graces).

But my mother – after my mother moved from Salina to a small town, she didn’t tell anyone she was affected by a rare, genetic and incurable disease. People didn’t know about her son and the implications for her. They didn’t know her past, and she didn’t want to define herself by something perceived as a weakness.

The sense of community I will inevitably grow back into in my small town, my mom didn’t regrow quite as quickly. She was older, quiet, grown kids, and couldn’t work in the same way she use to. She fatigued in the heat, slurred her words more than she use to, and felt awkward trying to impress new people.

In my books talks, I get to go to a few small towns, and I love it. My mom’s small town is a great place with many caring people, but it is easy for a new comer to a small town to not tell about their past, hide things that in the past have partially defined them, and not open up. I’m sure that’s easy in any town honestly. Sharing a community with people you haven’t shared a past with is a challenge in ways, but it isn’t one that has to isolate people. We can reach out, talk to the people who are quiet, invite people to local events, introduce them to our local connections, and make a community more welcoming.

It isn’t easy or fast to feel at home in a new home community, and I’ll be honest I’ve had a flop or two in my attempts to find deeper friendships in my new area like the friendships I had in a town I’d lived in or near 17… wow… 17 years. But something inside of us needs those human connections, bonds deeper than liking each other’s posts on Facebook, a deep enough set of common experiences that we can anticipate one another’s reactions and preferences.

So… if you live around me and read this, smile at me next time you see me in Wal Mart and come start a conversation. And if you live around someone you know who is quiet, may be socially retreating, or seems a bit lonely, start a conversation, care to be kind, and maybe even offer an invitation to an event that builds community.

I’m not exactly sure how my mother would have responded, but she would have appreciated the gesture, and had she lived longer in Larned I’m sure she would have grown deeper friendships from the people reaching out.

What I feel this week really is a sense of not having a deep network of long lasting relationships. That’s normal; I’ll survive. It probably isn’t that big of a deal, but it was different for my mother. More relationships and interactions would have mattered to her, to anyone really, but to her self-worth, her confidence, and her enjoyment. This feeling, I’m going to hold on to it, because it is a good reminder to be a good friend, a good neighbor, and a smiling face.

Sorry if it sounds whiny. This is what I thought about at the gym after I went to a community event hoping to talk more to people, didn’t find many people I knew, then decided to fight the feeling of missing my hometown by hitting the weights.🙂

And if I were to psychoanalyze myself again, I bet a good part of this feeling is meeting people who are strangers to me, but have read the book From My Mother and know intimate details about my family but I only see for an hour. I want those deeper connections, and I imagine it is probably awkward to make friendships after someone reads your blog or your life story. I met someone at a presentation at a Library’s Chamber Coffee who went to church with my mother and father. She told me “I had no idea,” gave me a hug, and went on about how she knew my aunt, my grandma and how my dad gave her son Werther’s every Sunday in church. I felt an instant connection to her. But I’ve only been around her once in my life and it might be a long time before I see her again. I miss having friends around me regularly that knew my mother and my brother. Actually, I kind of just miss having people around who knew my mother and brother, whether they were people I actually spent time with or not. In some odd way, it matters that the people around us have shared experiences with loved ones we have lost.

Growing up the sibling of a brother who didn’t speak

darcy and dustin

My brother, Dustin Ryan Bartz, was born with severe congenital myotonic muscular dystrophy and other complications created from a lack of oxygen reaching his lungs shortly after birth. Dustin would qualify as “non-verbal”. From his birth situation, he had hydrocephalus, or what they call “water on the brain” (which we didn’t technically discover until he was 9 or so).

I was 3 when my brother was born, and over the years we developed many ways to communicate. I learned to read my brother’s body posture to match his moods. I knew hunched shoulders and a pulled back lower lip meant he was afraid. Dustin made noises like grunts and coos and whines. Some of the sounds that come from my 7 month old baby girl remind me of my brother. I learned to interpret those noises and grunts to Dustin’s typical needs and desires and be his voice to communicate with others.

If my brother and I were at one of my softball games and a teammate’s parent wanted to talk to Dustin, I’d often be there to answer questions or help Dustin trust the interaction and enjoy it. Dustin was easy to appreciate; he was cute, friendly, good natured, and happy to have attention. Being one of the caretakers for my brother as his sister, I often got positive attention in being around him when others wanted to meet him. People viewed me in a positive light and appreciated when I would speak with or for my brother.

My brother lived 13 wonderful years and passed away when I was 16. I loved many things about my brother and miss him greatly. But if I am to be completely honest as a sibling, part of what I missed about my brother was how I defined myself by being his sister. I missed the feeling of importance when someone would talk to me in order to talk with him. I missed the instant positive feelings people would have about me when I pushed my brother’s wheelchair. I missed that people would look at me and smile when I was in public with my brother. Without Dustin, I faded in to the crowd much more than I did with him. I wasn’t special on sight to those who would have natural empathy to someone like my brother and his family.Growing up the sibling of a wonderful boy with myotonic muscular dystrophy, a wheelchair, and drool often on his shirt meant people reacted to me a certain way, and that I learned how to interact with people in a certain way.

I write this for a specific audience as the target – siblings of individuals with disability who do not speak or may be considered non-verbal. I guess as a writer I enjoy psychoanalysing myself, and lately I’ve been wondering how having a sibling who did not speak affected my speech abilities and tendencies.

Do I value words more because that was a gift I could give to my brother?

Did I want to invest in my language ability because it proved so valuable as a child?

Do I have more controlling tendencies because I perceived myself at times of having a role to “speak for” my brother?

Is part of the reason I take myself so seriously because as a child I viewed talking as part of my “job”?

I was quiet in school, avoided conversations I considered frivolous, have a really hard time making jokes and generally only liked to talk to my peers if it were “business talk” or about a common interest I already knew we both shared. Was part of that because life seemed so serious with a brother who would likely (and did) have a shorter lifespan than me? Was part of that because I didn’t get to have typical conversations with my sibling? Was it because I felt that adults listened so intently when I spoke around my brother?

I taught AP Language for 6 years, published a book about my family, and use my language skills in my tech job. I love language, love writing. I guess in my life I don’t need to know exactly why that is, but I’m also a military Air Force brat who moved around a lot. I enjoy reading about the psychology of military brat children, relate well to others like me, and I really wonder how much I would have in common in language and speech tendencies with other siblings of individuals who do/did not speak or who might be labeled as non-verbal.

So… if you are a sibling like me, how do you think your sibling experiences have shaped the way you communicate as an adult?

darcy and dustin
How did this boy shape this girl becoming a high school English teacher?

From My Mother reviewed by people in Families Affected by Neuromuscular Diseases

Making money by writing a book would be a nice side effect, but to be honest the reason I poured years into From My Mother, the story of my family and muscular dystrophy, was to reach families like mine. If you are in a family affected by a neuromuscular disorder, this book can help you feel less alone, give insight into the real family complications that come with disease, and the hope and strength that can come in trying to live well the days we are given. Below are some of the most important reviews From My Mother can get – reviews from people affected in some way by neuromuscular disorder – whether they themselves are affected, or their children, or their spouse, or even their patients. If you are from a family like mine or help families like mine, please consider owning this book. One day, reading it might help you with some of the hardest questions in life.

Buy From My Mother here http://www.electiopublishing.com/index.php/bookstore#!/From-My-Mother-Surviving-and-Thriving-in-a-Family-Ravaged-by-Genetic-Disease-Paperback/p/63943406

Kelly is a caretaker with a  spouse affected by a neuromuscular disease:

kelly

John is a man bravely living with MD:

john

CD is a healthcare professional who has worked with families affected by genetic disease:

deturk

Jessie is a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with MS years after we met:

jessie

Laura is a genetically “typical” daughter born in a family affected by MD.

Laura M

Linda is a mother and caretaker in a family affected by neuromuscular disease.

linda m

Aunts and uncles too can better understand their own family:

MMD review

Lisa read From My Mother on mother’s day

lisa

I don’t know who left this one, but I’m glad they found From My Mother:

chronic disease

From My Mother can also help loved ones process memoires:

grandma

From My Mother can help you understand the world of a caregiver

caregiver

Perhaps From My Mother is for you.

ashton

final-book-jacket-web-optimized

If you want From My Mother and money is an obstacle, or you don’t use your credit card online, or shipping seems hard – if you are from a family affected by neuromuscular disease, I will send you a free copy! Just email dleech@live.com. I wrote this story for people like us. Perhaps in reading it you will feel less alone.

Jo Lyn Bartz Memorial Scholarship – 4th Annual Recipient Selected

April 27th I got the honor of awarding the fourth annual Jo Lyn Bartz Memorial Scholarship to a senior at my alma mater and where I taught the first seven years of my career, Salina Central High. This year was a special treat because without either me or my father being on the selection committee, Lindsey Wood, a young woman I have known for years and respect because of her work ethic, desire to help others, and integrity was chosen.

seniorawards2016 002
Randy, Lindsey, Darcy at Salina Central High on Awards Night 2016

The Jo Lyn Bartz Memorial Scholarship was created by fundraising and donations in the Salina community. People who prayed with me as my mother was in the hospital helped me raise the funds to create a scholarship endowment. It was a beautiful gift from my friend and neighbors to help me reach the necessary funds to start the scholarship because now it allows me to honor my mother’s name and spread the story of her strength through a scholarship that helps propel young lives to thrive for others.

When my mother passed away, I need to heal. I needed to make sense of what my life meant now that I had lost my brother and mother to a genetic disease I did not inherit. I wrote From My Mother to process the emotions, to sort through the complex philosophical issues, and to give myself a time where I let the pain be felt and acknowledged. But writing itself wasn’t enough. Writing is personal, and unless it is shared, writing for yourself in your basement doesn’t change relationships. Creating a scholarship in my mother’s honor with my community’s support did change relationships. It let something good and beautiful come from the loss, and it perpetually honors my mother’s life. It let me share my pain and joy with my community and share my family’s story each year with the scholarship.

If you have lost a loved one and have the capacity to create a memorial scholarship, I highly suggest it. I didn’t have $5000 to start the endowment myself, but I sent a fundraising letter, held a donation garage sale which friends and family could bring items to, and asked for help on social media. People showed me that the legacy of my mother was worth their support, and since them I’ve been able to heal and grow a little more each Awards Night at Salina Central High.

It’s honestly one of my favorite nights of the year. I’ve been proud of all four recipients, having picked none of them but known them all personally and taught them all in some capacity.

Last year’s recipient, Zach Hilbig, was a Governor’s Scholar tonight and one of the top three Most Representative Senior Males! Lindsay Wood, this year’s recipient, was also awarded the Most Representative Senior Female award, one special to my heart and in a chapter of From My Mother… Congratulations to Zach and Lindsay on a great senior year and taking the Jo Lyn Bartz Memorial Scholarship into college!

I should have gotten a picture with Zach last night. I’ll get one with him at graduation…🙂

 

The Faith Story of From My Mother – shared with Heartland Community Church 4/24/2016

Isaiah 55 8 9

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…

Today I had the humbling honor of giving a guest sermon in our church, Heartland Community Church in Great Bend. It took a lot of courage and prayer to be able to prepare the sermon, and it took grace to be able to speak the words. But it felt so good to do it!

I told about the evolution of prayer in my life from a child’s “wish” prayers, to the search for meaning prayers I had as a teenager after losing Dustin, to the prayers of “thy will be done” when my mother was in long-term critical care.

“I asked God to let Dustin walk one day, Daddy. It’s what I always wish for.”

The most important thing I told about though was my mother’s faith and strength in her last days – what carried me through to be where I am today. Bless her. The strongest woman I will ever know died with weakening muscles, but steadfast faith. This is her story. God is in it.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed by not driven in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.

 

Here is a full audio recording with the slides presentation as a movie:

If you want to read the full story of From My Mother: Surviving and Thriving in a Family Ravaged by Genetic Disease, you can find it here: http://www.electiopublishing.com/index.php/bookstore#!/From-My-Mother-Surviving-and-Thriving-in-a-Family-Ravaged-by-Genetic-Disease-Paperback/p/63943406

This Weekend starts book events!

elephant

My 30th birthday is April 22nd, and that is also the date of my book release party in Great Bend, KS! If you are in driving distance and want to support me, I look at this as my most important birthday yet and the beginning of a new phase of life! Come support From My Mother and I’ll get you a signed copy of the book!

book release party

On April 23rd, I get the honor to join families like mine with a Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Walk. If you want to support my team, you can donate at http://www2.mda.org/goto/frommymother or you can build on jewelry like this I got with some super garage sale skills… (true story) Check out my ebay profile to see if you want to help my team with some rewards: http://www.ebay.com/sch/dlbraves/m.html?item=311592806098&ssPageName=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

elephant

Then, perhaps the biggest event this weekend and the closest to my heart, is I get to give a guest sermon at our Heartland Community Church. I’ve been thinking about what to say for a month. From My Mother is mission driven for me. I believe I was called to write this book. I get to tell people on Sunday part of what I think I was put on this earth to do. That’s beautiful, but a little intimidating. I’ll be praying in the meantime for the words to say.

And two great 5 star reviews were left on Amazon today. Things are looking promising for From My Mother reaching the audience who needs it. today: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1632132249/

april 17

From My Mother has 12 5 star reviews on Amazon right now and 30 reviews on Goodreads (29 5 star, 1 four star). Every review counts for this first time author, so please do post a review and help the momentum if you want to support the story!

22 Year Old Male said “This is one of the only books this year that will actually have a lasting impact on my life, and I cannot thank the author enough”

From My Mother naturally appeals to daughters and mothers (so it would make a great mother’s day gift…), but Benjamin, a 22 year old male, found an important emotional connection to the story.

Guys like it too! Take a read outside of your normal genre, and you might be surprised by the power of the text…

benjamin

Benjamin, you did thank me enough. Reviews matter, and I read your words and felt connected. Thanks for reading my family’s story.

Buy your copy today here http://www.electiopublishing.com/index.php/bookstore#!/From-My-Mother-Surviving-and-Thriving-in-a-Family-Ravaged-by-Genetic-Disease-Paperback/p/63943406 

or here http://www.amazon.com/dp/1632132249/

final-book-jacket-web-optimized

 

“In situations that could break the strongest of families, Darcy and her father have set the bar high.”

last days

One of my Great Bend friends understands how cool my adult relationship with my father is. My dad is one great guy, and I’m glad I have him!

lori

I drove my father to my home after my mother passed away in the hospital. He said to me “I can’t wait until I can go to heaven to join them.”

I told him “You can’t do that yet. You’re all I have left.”

You know what he did after that? He moved in, watch my son while my husband and I work, and called my son his “hero.” My dad said Eli saved him. Truthfully, Eli might have saved both of us. That little man gave us a new vision of family, and my daddy embraces that with me everyday.

His room is in the basement now that we moved, but it’s a nice room.🙂 My dad has lived with me since mom passed away in 2011. I wouldn’t have it any other way (unless he find a good lady to treat him right….).

I love my daddy!

 

Full text of review:

Riveting and, at times, heart-wrenching, From My Mother personalizes a disease few know little about. Ms. Leech candidly shares her story with readers from her earliest memories of her family who, armed with love and determination, push through the cruel realities of myotonic muscular dystrophy. Raised with the understanding that families encourage, support and champion each other through the most difficult of circumstances, Darcy never seems to question her role in caring for her younger brother. Dustin may be restricted in what he can do, but that never seems to be the focus of this family. Instead, they see to it that he has as many “normal” life experiences as possible. As the disease begins to take hold of Darcy’s mother, JoLyn, she shares the difficulties of daily life and the loneliness that often accompanies degenerative diseases such as MMD. In situations that could break the strongest of families, Darcy and her father have set the bar high. Randy, who cares for his grandkids on a daily basis, enjoys a close bond with Darcy and her husband. Quite a refreshing story for one that could have ended in brokenness and hopelessness. This book ignites hope in what can be.

Riveting and, at times, heart-wrenching, From My Mother personalizes a disease few know little about. Ms. Leech candidly shares her story with readers from her earliest memories of her family who, armed with love and determination, push through the cruel realities of myotonic muscular dystrophy. Raised with the understanding that families encourage, support and champion each other through the most difficult of circumstances, Darcy never seems to question her role in caring for her younger brother. Dustin may be restricted in what he can do, but that never seems to be the focus of this family. Instead, they see to it that he has as many “normal” life experiences as possible. As the disease begins to take hold of Darcy’s mother, JoLyn, she shares the difficulties of daily life and the loneliness that often accompanies degenerative diseases such as MMD. In situations that could break the strongest of families, Darcy and her father have set the bar high. Randy, who cares for his grandkids on a daily basis, enjoys a close bond with Darcy and her husband. Quite a refreshing story for one that could have ended in brokenness and hopelessness. This book ignites hope in what can be.