Posted by: karenevoss | April 23, 2014

In memory of an author

With love and remembrance for Manya Kaczkowski–author, travel writer, cousin, friend:

Remember that? I do.

Remember how we first got acquainted at the July 4, 2010 gathering at your house? I do.
And I shared my journey with you and you shared with me.

Remember when I sent you my first story to you to edit in January 2011? I do.
You sent it back and wrote the following, “…I did make some sort of major suggestions—just know that I made them with love. I want you to get this published! I also know what it’s like to have an editor give you suggestions—it feels pretty brutal. So I hope you will still talk to me after this. :)”

Remember when I decided to still talk to you? I do.
I asked and allowed you to read my first real story. You hoped it would publish and this story eventually got published online through More Magazine! It also became the structure for my now published book!

Remember when you chose to edit my Survival Story in September 2011? I do.
You sent it back not only with edits, but with praise, “It’s good…you’ve come a long way, baby! Let me know if-no when-it gets published!” You know it got published in the Winter 2012 Survivors Helping Survivors e-newsletter through the Mental Health America of Wisconsin on January 17, 2012. It’s all about sharing my journey after I lost Russ to suicide and helping others. Your comment on this news made me beam, “Wow, Karen. Congratulations—what an accomplishment”.

Remember when you and Jerry came over to help celebrate all the work done on the house and you signed my copy of Milwaukee’s Historic Bowling Alleys? I do.
You wrote, “To Karen, It’s been great to get to know my cousin! Love, Manya 2011”. I’ll cherish your book forever. You never got to see my book, That’s All I Got!; Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide, but I know you’ll look down from Heaven and see the signed copy that Jerry now has.

Remember also when you gave as a gift my indigo orchid at the Open House? I do.
It flourishes every year. In the past weeks, it bloomed six flowers and in the past week it produced two more buds and I honestly believe that you and your love had something to do with that.

Remember when the 2012 family Christmas party approached and I mentioned on Facebook about my loud and crazy family playing zilch? I do.
You guessed and knew I was referencing you. We had us a great game and we proved we were all loud and boisterous.

Remember when I informed you about my first rejection letter and asked if I should frame it? I do.
You teased that I should, “Keep it to send back to them with a photocopy of your first book, hee hee”. I could still do this you know.

Remember when I shared with you the piece I wrote and shared with my creative writing class titled, The Worst Day? I do.
It described in detail what happened the day Russ completed suicide. I mentioned I would incorporate this into my future book. You told me, “It must have been so difficult not only to write, but to read this out loud! I bet it was cathartic though”. I had to search for the meaning of cathartic. This story found its place as the prologue to That’s All I Got!.

Remember when you lived in Italy and you shared the photo of the two ladies who were at the open window? I do.
I told you they reminded me of the two Muppet Hecklers (Stadler and Waldorf). You shared my reference in your blog post, Essay Post: The People of Puglia, for the photo caption. It read, “Gotta love these ladies. My husband’s cousin—and my friend—Karen says they remind her of those Muppet guys who make comments from the balcony”.

Remember…as I revealed parts of my book with you, you always gave me a positive response and encouragement. You’ve always been and continue to live in a part of my writing journey. You’re considered not only a cousin and friend, but a mentor and inspiration to me. I’ll reference all your advice and guidance (yes, I saved all the email and Facebook correspondence) as I continue to dream. You forever hold a place in my heart, in my writing, and in my book (literally), That’s All I Got!

I love you cousin and I’ll miss you. -Karen



  1. […] Yesterday morning, my other blog, Inspiring Thru Thought, published the tribute I wrote for her, In Memory of an Author, that’s received a positive response both in comments on facebook and in person. I knew my […]

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