Please enjoy some of the many images Sal took around her Writing Cabin in the Woods. If you would like to read all of the column’s Sal posted on A Slice of Orange, please click here.
Two weeks ago, we unexpectedly lost a very dear friend of mine. Today her friends and family are gathering together to remember her life. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.
It has taken this long for me to get my mind around writing about our loss. Sal was a remarkable, inspiring, enigmatic, gentle, loving soul. She inspired so many, and made every one of her many, many friends feel special, valued, and loved. I am so sorry for the loss felt by her family and friends, but also truly sorry for those of you who will not get to meet her.
Sal had a lot to do with who I am today. I’ll never forget the morning she wrote asking if I would consider professionally editing her memoir. This was before we were great friends. She felt shy even asking me, when in fact she was offering me an incredible opportunity. See, this was before I identified myself as an editor– honestly, before I even felt truly comfortable saying I was a writer. Yet, she trusted me to help shape the way she presented her life story to the world. What an honor. As we worked together, Sal’s faith in me helped me find faith and confidence in myself.
Her memoir, From Scratch, is now a publication that has reached countless readers. Sal’s commitment and hard work produced a book that is so much more than just an interesting story from her life, but also a source of inspiration for others. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do so. I’ve read it more times than I can count (in all of its various incarnations) but you can bet I’ll be rereading it in the near future. Once my heart can handle it.
I miss you, Sal. ♡
Sal was at the first-ever meeting of the Bethlehem Writers Group in 2006. She had written several vignettes that she hoped would be inspirational, and brought them to the group for a critique. I remember it well. We had never met before, and here was a bright-eyed, white-haired woman with short bits of writing on several aspects of life and spirituality. The only problem was . . . they came across as preachy.
All of us who knew Sal know she was never preachy—but that’s how her writing came across. And that’s what we told her.
Instead of being discouraged, she went home and tinkered with them some more. At the next meeting she brought another draft, then another and another at the meetings that followed. She told us later that after each meeting she would go home and Mel would ask, did they like this one better? She just shook her head. Nope.
But, in true Sal fashion, she never gave up. She kept writing until she finally found her voice—by writing about her life. And when she did, she wrote from her heart.
One of the first such stories was about being in her writing cabin and looking out the window to discover that someone had stolen her Vespa. In her story, she went through the stages of grief over losing her beloved scooter, only to find as she walked back to her house . . . that she had parked it somewhere else.
Sal could laugh at herself.
Once she found her voice she wrote about nature. She wrote about recovery. She wrote about strong women, good friends, and spirituality. And then she combined the best of all of them when she wrote about building her house.
It took her years to complete her memoir, From Scratch: Why I Walked Away from My Life and Built This Home. At first, it was hard for her to share her private pain with members of the writers group—let alone imagine sharing it with the world. But every time she gave more of herself to her story, she lent it a truth that, when published, helped others in pain to find their path to healing.
When she finally published the book, all of the writers group family celebrated. And, in the months that followed, she learned that her words were inspirational—and anything but preachy.
She stayed with our writers group for the rest of her life. Over the years, Sal became so much more than a fellow writer. She became a cherished friend.
We are so happy to have been part of her journey, and feel very blessed that she was a part of ours.
This month’s Featured Author is a bittersweet event for me. Sweet, because I am so pleased to share Sally Paradysz with the world. But bitter, because Sal died, unexpectedly, two weeks ago while on vacation in her beloved Maine.
Sal was a regular contributor in this new incarnation of A Slice of Orange. She was, in fact, one of the first authors I ask to write for us. She blogged about writing and life and nature on the thirteenth of every month. Sal was wise, friendly, and so kind that I can’t recall hearing her say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss her. I know it’s a cliché, but the word is a dimmer place without Sal. I offer my profound condolences to her partner Mel and her children and grandchildren. Sal’s family asked that instead of flowers or donations that people do a random act of kindess for someone in need.
If you haven’t read Sal’s book or one of her short stories, I hope you take the time to do so. Each one offers a gentle lesson on life.