Welcome to Litfuse Publicity’s Blog Tour for Safe from the Past
When author Patricia Miller Mauro’s parents met, her father was working as a surgical orderly and her mother was training to be a nurse’s aide. They were as different as could be. Her father, the second of nine children, had been raised in a strict Amish family. Despite their differences — and the fact that her mother was in love with someone else — Mauro’s maternal grandmother pushed for the union. Eventually, she prevailed, but only a month into the marriage, her mother confessed her real feelings to her father. After years of trying to make the marriage work, they divorced. Mauro and her younger sister lost contact with their father, and would not be reunited with him for many years. In the interim, their mother’s attempts to be a successful single parent failed miserably.
The girls lived in poverty, moving from place to place with their mother when she could no longer pay the rent and was evicted. Over time, the quality of their living quarters steadily declined. Often, their food stamps did not last for an entire month and the utility bills went unpaid, leaving the youngsters hungry, cold, and bereft of hope.
Just when it seemed that their plight could not be any worse, Mauro’s mother met and married Bill, a tough-looking vocational school instructor and hair salon owner who was originally from New York. At first, the future seemed brighter. The girls and their mother moved into Bill’s comfortable home and no longer had to worry about whether they would have enough to eat.
Their joy was short-lived, however. Both Bill and their mother drank heavily, and their arguments became increasingly vile — and violent. Mauro knew that she had to escape the insanity that characterized her mother’s marriage and the home they now shared with Bill.
Mauro’s mother had always encouraged her daughters to complete their education. She urged them to attend and graduate from college, earning degrees that would enable them to become self-supporting so that they would never end up like her – dependent upon an abusive, alcoholic man to provide for her and her children.
After graduating from high school, Mauro was admitted to Muskingum College, about an hour away from her Ohio home. With enough financial aid to see her through her first semester, dreams of graduating and crafting a decent life for herself and her sister, and sheer determination, Mauro set about following her mother’s oft-repeated advice.
Anyone who has struggled to complete their education will relate to Mauro’s compelling memoir, Safe from the Past. Those still dreaming about attending college and earning a degree will be inspired by her story.
As a child, Mauro and her sister lived with their mother in unspeakably horrific conditions. Her mother even abandoned the girls at least once after their father complied with a court order to relinquish custody to their mother. When they did not have enough food to eat, their mother begged her own mother to loan her money to buy groceries. But the grandmother often refused, instead giving them leftovers and freezer burned meat that she planned to throw away.
Mauro describes their short-lived relief when they gained a stepfather who was financially stable and able to provide them with a decent home, clothing, and plenty of food to eat. But instead of putting her children’s needs ahead of her own, their mother often went out at night to have dinner and drink with her new husband, leaving her daughters at home with no food or money.
So desperate was Mauro to escape the dysfunctional environment in which she found herself that she left for college with no concrete plan for paying her tuition and other costs. She just knew that she could make it through the first semester, and hoped that faith would carry her after that point. She relates how the kindness of one of the school’s deans, as well as the kitchen staff members, helped her survive when she had no money to buy food for the weekends during which the school cafeteria was closed. As though led by a force greater than herself, Mauro seemed to repeatedly encounter guardian angels on earth who pointed her toward solutions to the obstacles that stood between her and a college degree.
Mauro was also extremely intelligent and resourceful. She had learned valuable lessons from her mother such as how to obtain credit and barter for needed goods or services, and put those skills to good use.
For Mauro, the Muskingum College campus was a safe refuge from the disorder and chaos that characterized her mother and stepfather’s home, but she worried about her sister, who remained there for several years after Mauro escaped.
Bill had the financial means to assist Mauro with her educational expenses, but flatly refused. He was so cruel that he even failed to provide emergency medical intervention Mauro desperately needed. But every act of cruelty served to make Mauro even more determined to graduate and be able to stand on her own.
Mauro’s writing style is straight-forward and admirably devoid of either self-pity or resentment toward either of her parents or her stepfather. Mauro’s relates her experiences with clarity and honesty that make her triumphant tale appear neither exaggerated nor embellished. Although she mentions her faith on numerous occasions, she makes no attempt to proselytize or convert her readers to a particular belief system. Rather, her faith is simply part of the fabric of the story that she weaves.
For all of her faults and shortcomings, Mauro’s mother did at least one thing right: She instilled in Mauro a drive to succeed on her own terms, with education as her solid foundation. In Safe from the Past, Mauro passes that message on to her readers, noting that because she attained her goals, she at last feels like she “finally escaped that past, never to relive it again.” Indeed, a happily married mother of two, Mauro is safe from her traumatic childhood and shares an important message about hope, determination, and the power of faith with her readers. Safe from the Past is an enthralling, uplifting, and inspiring memoir.