I Hope You Have A Good Life
A True Story of Love, Loss, and RedemptionBook - 2000
"A hole in the fabric of space opened, and the baby disappeared through it into dimensions where her mother couldn't follow. I hope you have a good life. It had the feel of an epitaph -- though not one for the dead. One for the living, for the vanished child." Campbell Armstrong met his first wife, Eileen, in Glasgow when they were both very young. She was Jewish, the only daughter of an Orthodox family who lived on the south side of the city. When they first became lovers, Eileen showed Campbell a small scar on her stomach, the only remnant of a cesarean delivery she had undergone when she was seventeen. The baby, whom she named Barbara, had been given up for adoption. Eileen's parents never spoke of it again, and Eileen got on with her life. Campbell and Eileen subsequently married, had three adored children, but eventually divorced due to Campbell's heavy drinking, drug use, and affairs. Eileen and Campbell somehow remained friends and kept in touch as a bond for their children. Years later, after Campbell had remarried and moved to Ireland, one of his sons received a distressing call from Eileen: she was ill and her future uncertain. After so many broken promises to her, after so many missed opportunities, Campbell decided to be there when Eileen and his children needed him most. He flew out to Arizona to confront the worst. During this same period, in a Yorkshire house, a forty-year-old woman was trying to trace her mother, without much success. Years of slow, painful progress had turned up few leads, but that was all she needed. Finally, she tracked down her mother's brother in Glasgow. She was Barbara, she told him, and Eileen was her mother. Her uncle at first held Barbara off, fearing that Eileen was too sick to cope with the news. Barbara then revealed an awful fact: she, too, was sick and didn't know how much time she had left. Impelled by the urgency, Barbara wrote Eileen a letter. Then one cold night, the telephone rang, and a voice spoke hesitantly, "Is this Barbara? This is your mother, Eileen." I Hope You Have a Good Life is the remarkable, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting story of two women, both with powerful characters, who had to live a whole lifetime of caring in too short a time. It is the result of a promise Campbell Armstrong made to his ex-wife, to put into words the extraordinary lives of these seemingly ordinary women.
Publisher: New York : Three Rivers Press, 2000.
Characteristics: 248 p. ;,21 cm.