Jenny Knipfer–Author

Writing to inspire, encourage, and enjoy

I can’t believe it’s been two years already since I’ve published the second book in my Sheltering Trees series, Under the Weeping Willow. Of all of the books I have written, this one was the most alive while I was writing it. The setting, being right around our country block from our place, and the things the main characters deal with are close to home and my heart.

It also has the most alive cover. The picture was taken by my brother-in-law at a farm nearby, where I imagined the story to be set, and the model is my niece. It was fun to see my vision for the book cover come together before my eyes. Not many authors probably get to experience that.

Essentially a story about a mother and a daughter, Under the Weeping Willow is told in a split timeline. The story of Enid and her mother, Robin, unfurls in a way that brings readers into tangible settings and real life issues like Alzheimer’s and depression.


June 1983
I rub my hand over my mother’s words. My throat clenches, and I hiccup, forcing back a sob. A tear lands on the lined page of the diary with a splat. The word “willow” starts to bleed with the moisture. I read through the entry once more.

April 10th, 1977
Dear Diary,
I put the silverware in the breadbox today. I don’t know why. I went to pull a loaf of bread out of the red, tin box to make a sandwich, and instead I pulled out a fork. I haven’t found the bread yet.

Yesterday, I couldn’t recall my phone number, when asked to give it over the phone to the clinic scheduler. Nothing appeared in my mind when I tried to imagine it. I could pull no number out of my magical memory hat. I had to read the number off the label under the receiver cradle. After about an hour, the number suddenly came to me, like I’d been hit with it. Did my memory go on vacation for an hour?

I have been noticing these strange things recently. It frightens me. It’s as if someone else has done these things. I don’t remember moving the bread at all. I try, but only a black hole appears in my mind when I do. That emptiness slowly sucks at me, like a vacuum. One day I fear there may be nothing left to remember.

Maybe I’m going crazy, but I swore I’d never go there again. I see the edge of the pond and feel the dangling willow branches tangle in my hair as if it were yesterday. The water pulls at me like Velcro, clinging, drawing me in. Why can I remember that from so many years ago and not where I put the bread today? I know one thing: They will not put me in an asylum for the mentally deranged. Not again.

I lift my eyes from the diary and look out the window in the sitting room. The willow tree still stands watching over the pond despite having battled several storms and suffering lost limbs. I whiled away many a summer day under its canopy of hanging branches. Mom didn’t like me playing by the willow, and she hated the pond. She was always after Uncle Hal to drain it. I never knew why.

The ink smudges as I swipe at the damp spot on the page of Mom’s diary, and I try to comprehend the words. Crazy… asylum? What could she possibly mean?

I swallow the lump in my throat and try not to be overburdened by guilt.
This was Mom’s first full week in the Dunn County Nursing Health Care Center, a glorified name for a nursing home. I hate that I had to admit her, but she’ll be safe. They won’t treat her like a crazy person. Will they? No, dementia is different. Well, Alzheimer’s the doctor called it. The staff are professionals and can care for her better.

I groan and swipe at my eyes. I can tell myself any number of things to justify my mother being tucked away like an old rag doll, but at the bottom of the justification lies the fact that I am the one who brought her there.
I sigh and close the diary, placing it back by her wingback recliner.

Thanks for reading!

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