First-time author and local banker Jody Porter, answers a fundamental biblical question with his own story, in his new book, "Carolyn and the Cross."
What is your cross in life? Everybody has one to carry, or is one to another person at different times, said Porter. In "Carolyn and the Cross," Porter writes a personal account of his mother's 37-year journey from being in a coma with little brain activity to miraculous stops along the road, thriving in her way, all the while blessing those she encounters.
The number of blessings grow every day. Released on December 27, the book is No. 1 on CrossBooks' list, a division of Lifeway's publishing arm.
The book opens with a seemingly cataclysmic event when Carolyn Proctor, a 27-year-old single mother of two, begins hemorrhaging shortly after a routine surgery and slips into a three-month coma. While she was kept alive by respirators, doctors advised her mother, Julia Proctor, that "perhaps death would be more dignified." Following her instinct and heart, Julia ignored this and the recommendation to tell the children their mother had died.
With strength and unfailing resolve, Julia is pure inspiration as she vigilantly cares for her daughter while raising Jody and his sister Becky. Months later, five-year-old Jody has an accident of his own landing in the hospital and aligning another miracle.
The 5-year old insists on visiting his mom, and upon seeing her child in an arm cast, the as yet unresponsive Carolyn begins crying silently.
At 111 pages, "Carolyn and the Cross" is a remarkable voyage accomplishing both of Porter's objectives. "I not only wanted to tell her story, but I thought it was important to write a book helping others struggling with tragedy make sense of it all," he said. "Life is all about perspective. It's how you view things that happen to you, and what you do with them make the difference."
The Savannah native and University of Georgia graduate believes divine intervention was involved with his words meeting the page and another example of how God can use less-than-ideal circumstances to achieve a greater purpose. Due to the economy, he experienced a setback and found himself in a job he'd had ten years prior at a different bank. He made "an immediate connection" with a client during lunch who told him about his wheelchair-bound brother. After Porter shared his mother's story, the client urged him to write a book.
"The only reason I was back there for a short time was to meet Danny, Ellen and Judy so they could push me to write the book," he said - the client, his sister and an employee read each chapter as he wrote it. He wrote the book in ten months on nights and weekends.
All the events that happened to Porter's mother in the book are true, though the genre is fiction. Two magical chapters are told through Carolyn's perspective. "The fiction that happens in the book is when Mom is in a coma... where she's with God," he said. "I used that part to tie in the end of the book answering the ‘why' question."
At a recent United Methodist Women's Circle meeting hosted by Julie Rogers, a life-long friend of Porter's wife Leanne, Porter related his use of the cross metaphor. In Chapter 3, God tells Carolyn, "I never give anyone in life a cross they can't carry. Each being is connected and similar just like links in a chain. Each link may look the same on the outside, but on the inside, some are stronger and some are weaker. You see, we all have crosses to carry in life; they are just different sizes...never too much for one person, never breaking the chain or connectivity. Do not worry, my child, your children will be OK. You will impact their lives more than you will know."
Jody Porter, his wife Leanne and their three daughters live in Conyers. "Carolyn and the Cross" is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CrossBooks.com and www.carolynandthecross.com.