At twenty-four, Deborah Good was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when her life was hit suddenly with unexpected, terrible news. She was standing next to her dad who lay in a stretcher outside the emergency room, when Doctor Noel filled them in: The CT-scans showed a mass on his left adrenal gland, spots on his lungs and liver.
It was, they would learn, a rare and aggressive form of cancer called adrenocortical carcinoma. In the tumultuous week that followed the diagnosis, Deborah moved back in with her parents, Betty and Nelson Good, in Washington, D.C. She joined with her mom in caring for her dad as best they knew how.
As Nelson approached death, Deborah spent hours sitting with her dad as he reflected back on the interlocking pieces of his unconventional job life. Admittedly, Nelson was neither a saint nor a celebrity and, by many measures, was a rather ordinary guy, yet he lived with a humble integrity and a commitment to others that touched many people. During his four decades in the city, he became committed to building small communities and organizations—a radical act in a world increasingly dominated by the belief that bigger was better.
From his spot on a padded green recliner, Nelson told the stories, one at a time, of seven projects, communities, and organizations he had cared deeply about: a neighborhood community center, an experiential education program for college students, an alternative day school for foster children, a retreat center, a house church, a historic building restoration, and a unique house renovation.
He moistened his mouth with
water as he spoke, and Deborah listened, took notes, and tape-recorded
their conversations. Later, she would add her own reflections in
between his. The resulting memoir is a unique intertwining of a
father’s history-telling with a daughter’s personal journey of
remembrance, loss, and grief.
Copyright © 2008 by Cascadia Publishing House LLC