After 17 years of marriage and three kids, I can’t imagine how I would begin to pick up the pieces if my husband decided to pack up and hit the road. Lives intertwined, family shared, and the sheer logistics of separating a set of co-mingled realities would seem to make the situation quite bleak indeed.
Imagine at fifty years old, being told by the man you had been with since the age of fifteen, that this was exactly what you had to look forward to: being a middle-aged divorcee.
Local author Annie Quinn faced exactly this scenario, but rather than hiding under a rock, she grabbed a couple of girlfriends and embarked on an adventure that would forever alter both the course of her life and the landscape of her heart.
In Quinn’s new book, “A Moment in Connemara: An Irish Love Story,” we travel along with her as she sets out on a trip to Ireland, intended as a girls getaway to help her get started on her new life as a single woman.
Little did she know before boarding her flight that in a little Irish pub on the Connemara Coast she would meet the man that would become pen pal, then treasured friend, then the love of her life.
Although written as a narrative, Quinn’s book reads almost like a journal. At the outset, we’re alongside her as she moves into a small rented apartment on Balboa Island – a place that had always been magical for her – to live next to the sea and begin her new chapter.
As we travel through Quinn’s experience of meeting her Irishman, Noel, and the journey that became their life together, it feels to the reader as though we are experiencing the trip together. At each step along the way, we feel unmistakably connected to the people on the page.
Begun in a memoir-writing class offered by the Indy’s own Jean Ardell, Quinn’s book is, at the start, intended to be a way for a grieving widow to preserve her memories, in order to share them with family and friends before they began to fade. As she shared her story with the class, however, they urged her to publish it, in order to allow more than just a few in her inner circle to enjoy it as well.
Easy to read, and definitely enjoyable, “A Moment in Connemara” also left me unable to keep a dry eye. As I read of the twists and turns life threw at this couple, I was incredibly moved by the tenderness they felt for each other and their families, and by the fickle reality fate often deals us.
Mostly, however, I was impressed by the message the book has to offer: enjoy life’s moments, as you never know where the next amazing story will begin–or end.
I asked Quinn what advice she would give to those of us who are sometimes so busy rushing through life that we forget to stop and smell the roses.
She replied: “My book reflects how Noel and I lived each day. Since we met later in life we knew we had to enjoy each and every moment. I think everyone can learn from the Irish to savor and enjoy the moments.”
This, in fact, has become Quinn’s personal motto. “Enjoy the Moments” was her sign-off in each of the emails we exchanged, as well as the handwritten inscription in the front of my copy of her book.
In this month of cupid and flowers, I can think of no love story more beautiful than that of Noel and Annie Quinn, and no motto more appropriate for each of us to remember. Enjoy the Moments, for they are fleeting, and all to soon, the moment may be gone.
You may find Quinn’s book at www.amazon.com, or at Martha’s Bookstore on Balboa Island.