rEview/ A Year of Days

The routine ins & outs of life are the backdrop of Myrl Coulter's nostalgic essays that pay homage to the memory of her late mother

by paula e. kirman

THE loss of a parent is one of those defining moments in life. For writer Myrl Coulter, the loss of her mother to a rare form of dementia was inspiration for a eulogy which led to the series of personal essays that make up the volume AYear of Days.

Myrl Coulter's 'A Year of Days'

Coulter writes about aspects of her life that are actually quite mundane: vacations, special holidays, childhood memories, cooking soup, learning to play golf, and her annual ritual of attending the Folk Fest. Basically, fifteen essays that explore the average days that make up a typical year. What unites the essays is the ever-present memory of her mother and how she influenced Coulter's life and experiences.

What the personal narratives are, ultimately, are meditations on absence. Coulter obviously has a very full life, yet the absence of her mother is still keenly felt. Her words demonstrate how much influence a parent can have on the life of a child, even when that child is grown up and is herself a parent.

Her creative nonfiction is conversational in tone with accents of humour. While this would be an excellent volume to gift to someone experiencing the loss of a loved one, Coulter's emphasis is on cherishing her memories and moving forward. Perhaps that is the most important message of all for surviving children – one can feel absence without being absent to one's own life.


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