by Richard Cerasani, a client of Media Connect, and the author of Love Letters From Mount Rushmore. For more information, please see: https://richardcerasani.wordpress.com
Some people are familiar with the song title, “I left my heart in San Francisco.” I am stuck with the phrase, “I left my stomach in New York City.” Shortly after this unromantic phrase became my reality, I moved out of the great city in favor of upstate New York, where I felt I had a better chance to survive from what had become my reality, “cancer of the stomach”. This life changing event brought about more than a change of location. It brought another defining moment in life.
Though my new location of Saratoga Springs was my “ground zero” and a new life of chemo and radiation treatments, it also became “ground zero” for another new life that was in store for me. Living within a mile of my parents’ home I now had free time to scavenger around in my family’s past, the place I refer to is the family’s attic, which was to become a frequented place for me to hang out.
Just as the terrific lyrics of the song, “The Attic”, written and sung by the artist Dan Berggren says, “The attic is full of memories, that’s where they go to rest until someone searches through them and rescues from the best their former glory and tell the story, from the attic. Documents of life telling tales of how life used to be, pieces of time well preserved, or victims of neglect. Secrets from the past revealed at last with respect, reminders of the folks who used to live there.” That follows the script of what was about to happen to me. The attic is where I found an old steamer trunk full of my parent’s life stories, including memorabilia relating a history of the development of Mount Rushmore.
I was amazed and then proud as the trunk revealed its secrets of Mom and Dad’s life and their contributions to this “Shrine of Democracy”, Mount Rushmore. For me, a race against time was beginning. Not only was this race about “Me vs. Cancer”, but also a race for me to reveal and share a complete story that was significant to our country’s growth as a nation and its path of destiny. I, Richard Cerasani, son of an Italian immigrant sculptor, was accustom to races against the clock.
At Northwestern University I had repeatedly run the mile and two mile as a member of the track team. So pressure was not new to me….I started my journey of discovery by examining the contents of the trunk. Days turned into weeks and then months followed as I examined the contents of the trunk. Time stands still for no one. I started reading Mom and Dad’s communication to each other and began to unwrap the delicate plaster heads of the presidents. Heads that represented George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. My grade school had taught me about our presidents but nothing had prepared me for my parents’ involvement in a tribute to these great men of our nation.
Sharing my days with the doctors, when necessary, and searching through the letters from the trunk became a routine for my life. I inched forward on both fronts. What was slowly emerging from my daily life was a book revealing what I call “the secrets of the trunk”. Yes, a book written by me was emerging. “Love Letters From Mount Rushmore”. That seemed to me a valid title, and a compelling one. “God, just let me finish this story”, became a solid part of my mind’s thoughts about the future, my future.
Now, six years later, I am pleased to report that I was able to sit at a signing table at the Javits Center in New York City for the Book Expo of America, (North America’s largest gathering of book industry professionals), as an author of “Love Letters From Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History”.
Thank you God, I finished the race.