Epilogue: About Carolyn and Myrtle
The 50th anniversary enhanced edition of DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal: A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best has been out long enough now that I've begun to get private feedback from readers who LOVED LOVED LOVED it and wrote glowing reviews about it, but...
The "buts" have all been the same:
- "but what happened to Carolyn after De died?"
- "but what happened to Myrtle the Turtle after De died?"
The short answer to why the book ended when De died is that I wanted the 50th anniversary edition to be mostly about the good times...the fun times...the times that people will want to revisit frequently and recall with delight.
And I had to take out of the first (2001) edition more than 8,000 words to have room enough to put in 55 additional pages of fun anecdotes and more than 30 pages of images, so lots of things had to go without throwing a monkey wrench into the flow of the narrative. So I elected to make it the "downer" parts--again, to end the book as quickly as possible after De ends up in the hospital and we spend almost three months together as his life force ebbs.
But I miscalculated.
I should have added a brief epilogue to this 50th anniversary edition.
Although it's usually good strategy to "always leave them wanting more", it's far from great to leave readers frustrated! People fall in love with Carolyn Kelley and Myrtle while reading my book, too!
The only good thing to gain from messing up in this hare-brained way is that I have discovered candid new friendships as people have written to ask "what happened next?"
Had I tied up these two remaining loose ends, I might have heard nothing back OR received a nice review and that's all, folks, which would have left me wanting more! I love connecting with De's fans!
So although I goofed, I now have a strong handful of new friends who were brave enough to risk hurting my feelings to let me know where my narrative left them feeling let down. These are folks who won't hesitate to make sure I do right by my readers--so they're worth their weight in gold!
And now that you've read this far, I'm going to answer these remaining questions!
First, the easy one: Myrtle the Turtle moved kitty-corner across the street to a neighbor's yard where her life could resume its course without a missed beat--no "settling in" to a new climate. Her new owners (I won't divulge their names for privacy's sake) love her and promised to contact me if they ever need to re-locate her...
And now, the not-so-easy one:
Carolyn Kelley lived another five years, mostly in the hospital after De died because her broken leg never healed. I served as her untrained sidekick in the hospital for seven months after De died until her emotional and psychological needs became too great for a person untrained in geriatric mental health issues to contend with, at which time I resigned and requested that her attorney find her a constant companion who would know how to handle the symptoms she was exhibiting. (For privacy's sake, this is all I will divulge.)
According to her devoted final caregiver, Amy Kelley (no relation)--a wonderful, sassy, amazing, well-trained, ebony-hued lady from Jamaica with stunning purple eyes who had also served as Bette Davis's caregiver; I'll just say OMG and leave that right here!), at some point Carolyn tried returning home with a series of professional caregivers (before Amy came on the scene and after I had left) but the return home didn't work out. Carolyn developed bedsores and began to report to her attorney that stuff was disappearing from her home, so she returned to the hospital,where she spent the rest of her life.
Closer to the end of her life, Carolyn seemed to "settle in" and accept the situation. She often spoke to Amy about seeing De and speaking to him in her absence. It seemed she was finally able to re-capture her formerly-happier attitude.
This was music to my ears because De's passing, as you can well imagine, threw her for a loop that I feared would last for as long as she did. Her only true loves were De and animals--and she was deprived of both for the rest of her life when De died, except for occasional doggy visits from Dr. Kaaren Douglas and her hospital-trained therapy pets.
Carolyn passed away peacefully in October, 2004.
As far as I know, Myrtle the Turtle still lives...but if she has died (she was about 90 when she moved 17 years ago), there was no need for her present owner to contact me about re-locating her...