Mexico 'The Country of My Heart'

9:43 AM
Barbara Joosse, author of "Ghost Wings" 
I’ve long-called Mexico the “country of my heart.” My book, "Ghost Wings," is a valentine to the place I love best. It’s also a valentine to my Grampa.

Grampa built a red log cabin the year I was born. The summer I was six, I set out to pick wild strawberries that grew nearby. But I was positive I could hear bears licking their lips! I froze, terrified. “There’s only one thing tastier than strawberries to a bear – and that’s ME!” I rushed back to the cabin. Mom said, “Barbara, there are no bears on the island. You have such an imagination!” Dad said, “You must be brave.”

Grampa didn’t question my truthfulness or my courage. He said simply, “Come with me.” We walked together, my little shadow next to his big one. Then Grampa stood, big as a bear, as I picked berries, secure in the knowledge that no beast would get past my Grampa.
This is the story I wanted to tell in "Ghost Wings,"the story of a bond so strong, death can’t break it. But how and where to set my story?

I was moved by the Monarcas’ return during Día de los Muertos, and the reassuring belief that they carry the souls of the old ones. Stories, songs and the fragrance of marigolds seemed the perfect trigger for the memory of a Beloved. And so "Ghost Wings" came to be.

Despite fifty trips to my parents’ home in Manzanillo, Mexico, I didn’t feel I was the right person to write the play. I may call Mexico “the country of my heart,” but it isn’t my actual home. When Alvaro and I discussed turning "Ghost Wings" into a musical, he asked how I wanted him to write it. I said, “I want you to own it. Now this story is yours to tell. Write it the way that feels best.”And he did.

Story submitted by Barbara Joosse, Wisconsin-based author.

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