Colorado Senior, Shari McMinn, Pens Five Generation Memoir
Fort Morgan farmer, speaker, writer, and mom to 11, Shari Howard McMinn, age 57, has spent the past 18 months since the unexpected death of her husband, Cary McMinn, compiling and writing a five generation family memoir entitled “Stretched Yet Unbroken; A Family Knit Together Continues Their Legacy of Faith.” Cary McMinn was a fit outdoorsman, seemingly healthy at 62 years of age, a farmer and retired college professor. He passed away in his sleep of a heart attack.
McMinn used her interest in creative writing as a therapeutic tool during her grief process. In the memoir, along with her original autobiographical work, she was able to compile transcribed hand-written journals and audio recordings from both her Howard family, and her late husband’s McMinn family ancestors. The result is an engaging, true-life adventure story spanning five generations of working class Americans, with family histories dating back to the 1800s, through the present day.
The Howard and McMinn families homesteaded in western Kansas and Montana, respectively, survived the Depression and Dust Bowl eras, with the men of the families working in careers as wide ranging as agriculture extension, construction, farming, law, oil and gas, public education, and retail management. Several also enlisted in the military, and their interesting stories of service are also recollected. Most of the women were tireless, hard-working homemakers and farmwives. Two of her grandmothers were widowed with young children at home, not unlike what happened to the author herself.
Cary and Shari McMinn led a unique life themselves, beginning as design professionals in Denver during the 1980s, becoming sustainable farmers when they moved to northeastern Colorado in 2001. Their life experiences raising a diverse set of children, coupled with their strong Christianity during the ups and downs of married life, enabled and matured them to become advisors, community volunteers, and support group leaders. Memoir chapter topics such as adoption, family economics, church missions, home schooling, parenting, and small-scale farming unfold with pathos and humor. The two chapters on death, one regarding Cary, and the other regarding their baby daughter Abby who died suddenly while an infant, were the most difficult, but important to write according to McMinn. The hilarity and tragedy transparently shared by the author, along with practical wisdom gleaned from a full and abundant life, makes this tenderly written memoir more than just a tale of two people who fell in love.
The book reads like fiction, with a storyteller’s spin that keeps the pages turning. Sprinkled throughout are glimpses of the hard work and legacy of blessing that comes from lives devoted to faith, family, conservative values, and a deep regard for human life. Readers will be inspired and challenged to live the “American Dream” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
McMinn has a blog with chapter excerpts posted every Friday afternoon: www.StretchedYetUnbrokenBook.com. The website also has links to the chapter outline, “first read” reviews, media information, preamble sections, photos, and online purchase in hardback, e-book, or kindle.