Kathleen Fern Suess was born and raised in Queens, New York, the youngest of four girls, and spent summers on Long Island. She raised her two children in Northwestern NJ, freelanced for a local newspaper, then moved upstate to the Hudson Valley. She founded a poetry group, publishing two chapbooks, while painting and working for a non-profit arts organization. She began writing her memoir after an unexpected family revelation.
She takes photos wherever she goes, likes to write in the local coffee shop (pre-pandemic), has made fourteen quilts, installation art, and mixed media collages. She is an avid reader of a wide spectrum of genres, including memoirs, Irish authors, first time novelists, and Stephen King. She is currently working on a cozy mystery novel that takes place in an historic small town in the Catskills.
SYNOPSIS, TABLECLOTH NIGHTS, A MEMOIR
A core of resiliency, a touch of humor, and a backwards glance into family relationships, follow Kathleen from Queens, NY, in a family fueled by too much alcohol and too little love. Early marriage, divorce, another relationship, motherhood, and several chaotic years later, she gains her independence.
She moves to the Catskills, adapting a new persona and a more relaxed way of life. With time to reflect, Fern confronts her nagging suspicions about Uncle John, a Catholic priest, and an important part of her childhood. Pursuing answers to questions about the past, she discovers a secret that has been hidden for decades. With the knowledge comes validation and an unexpected bonus.
Excerpt from Chapter 4
"Shining Shoes and Hula Hoops"
I have a palpable memory of Dad’s hands, the strong fingers with trimmed nails, the ropey veins close to the surface. Walking hand in hand with him as a young child, I felt protected. Teasing, he would squeeze my hand tighter and tighter till I complained, a familiar joke between us.
They were hands that had built a deck on the back of the summer cabin, hands that taught me how to tie my shoes and ride a bike, hands that held me up when I learned to float in the Long Island Sound. Hands that untangled fine gold chains and grabbed the wheel before I hit a car, when I was learning to drive.
Those hands worked on Algebra problems with me, showed me how to hold on when standing on the subway. They led me down the aisle to marry a husband, and one year later shook noticeably as they lit a cigarette, when I told him the marriage was over and asked him, “Will you tell Mom, please?”