Readers Talk Back

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thanks to everyone who has taken time to write; I love your stories. I picked out a couple from the past few days to share below:

Dear Mr. Johnson, I absolutely loved your book. My mother-in-law was in a nursing home for three-and-a-half years. We met so many wonderful folks and dearly loved them all...We helped during the parties and activities. One Good Friday while we were coloring eggs, one gentleman ate every single egg he colored. And one of the ladies sat there with green lips after taking a swig of the Easter egg dye. Some of the people never ever had a visit from relatives even when the relatives lived in the same town...Your book was funny and sad and very touching.

Just finished "The Sweet By and By," and have to give you a huge "bravo." As a southerner through and through, I can relate to these strong southern women. My mother was the church pianist and also the chosen funeral home pianist, and yes, the local nursing home pianist. The nursing home visits were frequent, and we, as children, were always made welcome by the men and women in the home. We would make the rounds with Mama as she visited each room and invited them to the dining room for a singing time. They loved it. Thank you for a very nostalgic journey in the pages of your beautiful story of a time that is so familiar to me.

Connecticut Style

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I drove down to New Haven yesterday to do an interview on WTNH Channel 8's "Connecticut Style." Thanks go out to Kate Sparrow and Desiree Fountaine for making me feel so welcome. Click here if you'd like to watch. All the best, Todd

Saturday afternoon in Connecticut

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday made a believer out of me -- spring is on the way. I had a great afternoon, including a visit to read and sign at The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot (, a truly great indie bookstore just a few minutes away from my home. As soon as I stepped inside, I felt the way that I did going into Shakespeare and Co. (now long gone) on the Upper West Side for so many years. Stop in and visit Fran Keilty if you're in Litchfield County and looking for a great read in the country.

One reader's story...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I have received so many amazing letters since the book landed on shelves three weeks ago. These stories mean everything to me, so THANK YOU to all who have shared them. I'm excerpting a recent one below with the permission of the writer:

"Dear Mr. Johnson, Last May, my mother-in-law passed away after a stroke...Your description was so close to what [she] did during her final week. She would smile and talk to "other people" in the room; all the while, she would be pulling an imaginary thread as if she were sewing. She would clip threads and strings from the air. Reading your book helped me understand what was going on in her mind at that time. In her more lucid moments she would tell me of seeing bugs crawling on the floor, or of the time she saw a tail grow out of her leg, reach across the room, and tighten around my father-in-law's neck. She talked of how frustrating it was trying to make anyone understand what she was experiencing as real. They termed her death as being "terminal restlessness." We all miss her very much. Thank you for writing such a compassionate book about a difficult time in life."

I think I'll always remember the words "terminal restlessness," and, to be honest, the part about the tail.