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Author writes about saying goodbye to her mother – ‘The Iris Lady’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Marilyn Neilans discusses her book, “Saying Goodbye to the Iris Lady,” during a book talk and signing Wednesday night at Hoag Library in Albion.

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Louise C. Smith planted and tended to 30,000 iris flowers at her garden in Williamsburg. She was an eccentric character with a tireless work ethic.

In 1996, Smith died at age 84. Her daughter Marilyn Neilans was 53 at the time, when she and her siblings were thrust into the emotional and financial strain of their mother’s final months.

Neilans has written a book about that experience. In “Saying Goodbye to the Iris Lady,” Neilans shares what she said is “a common story” of grown children becoming caregivers of their parents at the end of their lives. It may be a familiar story, but it isn’t easy, Neilans said.

In her nearly 400-page book, she writes about the emotional roller-coaster, sibling dynamics and Medicare reimbursements.

Neilans is married to Albion native John Neilans. They live near Knoxville, Tenn. They are in Albion this week visiting friends and family, and promoting the book. Neilans discussed the book last night at the Hoag Library in Albion.

“It’s a book about flowers, siblings and crazy brothers,” she told the Hoag crowd.

Neilans will have another book-signing Saturday at Bindings Bookstore on West Bank Street in Albion from 1 to 3 p.m. Her niece Lisa Neilans Blair will join her at that event.

Blair published a book about a trip her grandmother took across the country in 1939. Alberta Neilans and three of her friends drove from Buffalo to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and then back to Western New York, making many memorable stops along the way. Blair shares excerpts from their journal about the trip. That book is titled, “The Trail of the Gypsy Wagon.”