||August 16, 2011
After the sudden death of her 54 year old husband, Diane finds herself alone for the first time in her life. Twenty-Eight Snow Angels is an honest and heartfelt account of her struggle to build a meaningful life after the death of her loving husband, John.
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Twenty-Eight Snow Angels
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal, invites the reader into Diane's personal experience of grief, as she faces life alone after her loving husband's sudden death. With honesty and a clear perspective, she reveals her daily struggles and the realities of grief. Readers feel Diane's pain and at the sme time rejoice in her commitment to tackle the daily challenges of life alone and to succeed. Her hearltfelt story inspires hope as the reader discovers that they can build a meaningful life-alone or with someone new-after a devastating loss and reminds all of us to cherish the loved ones we have in our lives.
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels appeals to a broad audience of readers. Readers who have experienced a death of a loved one or a divorce will relate to many of Diane's experiences and challenges. The book took Diane seven years to write. It is based on journal entries, artifacts, photographs and her memories of the events. Readers call the book "touching . . . beautifully written . . . a true story of courage I could feel every line."
"A keenly observed story of the sudden death of a husband. The reader feels the grief and the hope that follows."
-Adair Lara author of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go and winner of Associated Press "Best Columnist inCalifornia" award.
Chapter 1 Happy New Year 2000
My husband and I rang in the New Year with friends. After an overpriced dinner at a local restaurant, John’s best friend and his wife invited us to their new home for more drinks and dessert. With a fire glowing in the fireplace and a plastic “Happy New Year 2000” banner draped above the mantel, we sat as couples and sipped our drinks as our host wandered through the room snapping photos. When he pointed the camera at us, I leaned into John’s soft black sweater. My paper “Happy New Year” crown brushed against John’s shiny brown
hair as he raised his glass and smiled for the camera. Just minutes before midnight our host passed out noisemakers and clicked on the television so we could watch the silver ball drop in Times Square. We counted down: 5–4–3–2–1. “Happy New Year!” we screamed as our noisemakers clanged and squawked. John and I clinked our champagne flutes and kissed.
After a delicious chocolate cheesecake dessert and coffee, we said goodbye and bundled up for the frigid winter drive home. The car door creaked as John opened it and I slid into the passenger’s
seat. Shivering, I pulled the seatbelt across my bulky winter coat and clicked my belt in place. John’s breath hung as vapor in the crisp Minnesota air as he crawled into the driver’s seat.
The engine hesitated, but eventually turned over. The tires crackled as the car pulled onto the snow-covered street. During the long, icy drive home we shared memories of the New Year’s celebrations we had spent with our friends over the past thirty years. In spite of the bitter cold we knew 2000 was going to be a great year.
The New Year brought resolutions, hopes for 2000 and, unfortunately, the flu season. For several days John slept in a chair to minimize his coughing as his temperature climbed to 104 degrees. I called the clinic. I told the nurse about John’s chronic lung condition that he’d had since birth and that I was worried about him. With the waiting rooms filled with sick patients, the nurse recommended I keep John home and give him Tylenol to bring down the fever.
After I hung up the phone, I stared at John, sleeping in his blue leather chair. I questioned the nurse’s suggestion, but within a week, his symptoms faded, and John returned to work. Life was back to normal until one afternoon in April when I walked through the back door. The message machine light fl ashed red. I pushed the play button.
“This is Lakeside Clinic. Please call us . . .” I froze. My hands shook as I pressed the numbers on the keypad.
“Lakeside Clinic. How may I help you?”
“My name is Diane Hohl I’m returning your call.”
“Diane, we admitted John to the ICU around two this afternoon. He drove himself here from work. His oxygen level was extremely low.” The nurse’s calm voice did nothing to quiet the panic that choked me. “You can call him. He’s in isolation so visiting is limited to immediate family only.”
I dialed the number I had scribbled on a scrap of paper. After several rings, John’s frail voice answered, “Hello?”
“Sweetheart, are you all right?”
“I’m okay. They’re just checking me out. I’ll just be here for a few days. Could you bring a few things?” I jotted the items on the scrap of paper, trying to keep my hand steady and to calm the tremble in my voice.
“Bring that silver mechanical pencil I use for crosswords, too. I think it’s by my leather chair on the end table. I love you, Diane.”
“I love you, too.”
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels
Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite
Diane Dettmann writes of her long-lasting grief at the death of her first husband, John Hohl, after twenty-eight years of marriage. John and Diane never parented children, but their marriage was a testimonial to two people bonding together completely and the devastation that the surviving member must endure after the other one's death. Diane's words convey a widow's long struggles with sorrow despite the support of loving family members, joining grief support groups and her own attempts to throw herself into work as a master teacher attending nationwide conferences. She shares convincingly how she finally got her life together, bought a sports car, learned to kayak, and finally met the man who would be her second husband, Allan. Diane Dettmann is totally honest about her use of alcohol and anti-depressants in fighting against the grief that overwhelmed her, and this is a message that readers will need to hear.
Twenty-Eight Snow Angels is an honest record of a widow's difficult struggle that is inspirational. Diane Dettmann is brutally honest about her long battle with losing her beloved husband, and readers going through that dark valley will appreciate this story. It is well written and well edited, although the identification of people in one or two of the accompanying black and white pictures would be beneficial. The author's portrayal of herself, John Hohl, family members and her second husband, Allan, are believable and add to this memoir. This is a book that will touch many lives in a positive, helpful way.
Stories of a Lifetime
"Saint Paul Pioneer Press"
Reviewed by Mary Ann Grossmann
Memoirs are becoming increasingly interesting as authors dig deep to share with readers their emotions as they faced life's crises. Here is a well-written memoir by a Minnesotan who came through tough challenges to new happiness.
Diane Dettmann’s husband, John, was only 54 when he died in 2000, and she couldn’t imagine life without him. She tells of her emotional journey in touching detail, beginning with the stained dress she wore to his funeral. Realizing she needed to go back to work after her husband’s death, Dettmann accepted a new job training teachers that involved traveling the country. While her colleagues socialized in the evenings, she curled up in her hotel room and cried.
She struggled through all the widow’s “firsts,” including setting up a small Christmas tree that fell over, firing up the snowblower by herself and coming home to an empty house. Dettmann tried to live a "normal" life and get over the grief, but she was eventually so deeply depressed she had to be hospitalized. With support and a will to succeed, life did get better.
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Reader Reviews for "Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal"
|Reviewed by Diane Dettmann
|Diane Dettmann has accomplished an extraordinary achievement in sharing the sadness of her very private grief journey from Denial to Acceptance in this well-written memoir. She shares the process she experienced after the sudden death of her husband, as she walks, runs, stumbles and pushes herself and you through the steps of grief. This book is not for the ‘ho-hum’ reader. Anyone who has experienced a loss should read this book, because if you haven’t completed the 5 step-grief process you will when you read this virtually day-to-day account of the struggles and realities of grief and how she worked through them. Reviewed by: Sharon D. Anderson, Ph.D. Angelic Communications|