May 24 • 07:56 PM

'Signs of Life' is a story for everyone

January 20, 2010
This week's story about fellow Times' writer Paula Parisot's e-book may not do it justice, so I'm adding to it a little right here.

I wish everyone would read Paula's book. It's really, really good and very much worth it. It is a story that has the ability to change lives.

Paula has been writing for us on and off for the past ten years. A few years back, she wrote a series of columns she called 'Reality Check' which chronicled her journey alongside her mom as her mom battled a rare form of breast cancer.

The brutally honest, sometimes emotional and always enlightening columns gathered steam. Readers from across the area began following Paula and her mom, Doris Nickel's journey. All of the feedback was positive and amazing. Paula and Doris were brave to share their story, especially toward the end of Doris's life.

After her mom died on January 7, 2007, Paula talked hesitatingly about an awesome occurrence she experienced in Doris's final hours. She was of course emotional over the loss of her mom, but was also amazed—if not a little uncertain—about what happened. Not uncertain about what happened, just uncertain about how to think about what happened. Uncertain about how others would think about what happened. I remember her saying to me over the telephone that she wanted to tell me about what had happened one day, but just couldn't say it all at the moment.

Eventually, Paula wrote about it in a series of three columns which prompted much feedback. People had similar stories or had heard of similar stories. No one had anything negative to say. No one thought she was nuts, or if they did they kept it to themselves. As amazing and well-written as those columns were, the 33-page e-book is even better. Things click, both for Paula and the reader seemingly at the same time. In fact, through reading it I believe Paula came to know the special gift she was given throughout her whole life through her connection with her mom.

I also like the way the book is set up, that it's only 33 pages and quite easy to read. I like the way it's organized—an introduction, five 'chapters' and an epilogue. As amazing as the story is, it all makes sense.

After reading it, even the cover makes sense. It's really neat that way.

It's not a "religious" story but it is indeed spiritual. It is a story for believers; and an even greater story for skeptics. As gushy as this sounds, to me it is a story for everyone.

Here are a few excerpts:

"Today, I do consider myself a Christian but as far as organized religion, I am on the fence...

"...But I'm not here to debate religion, organized or otherwise. I just want to share with you the experiences I have had in my life that have been quite extraordinary, and somewhat unbelievable to some. However, it is all true."

Here is a passage from 'The Beginning of the End' chapter:

"One day during her time in the hospital, as we waited outside the CT scan room, she told me that she was experiencing this for God. I rolled my eyes at that one. What kind of God wants us to experience this kind of pain and torture. I don't get it. I admitted that I had my doubts that God existed. Especially at that moment.

"She said 'Never question it, Paula, it's true...'"

"...More than anything she wanted me to remember, 'love comes first.' She said it with such emotion that it has become a mantra for me. It was one of the last pieces of advice she had given..."

And this from 'Her Last Days' chapter:

"As I looked at her face, the light grew. It was the most beautiful brilliant purple-pink-blue light I had ever seen...

"...Moments before that, I had seen a white light above and to the left of her head, but I didn't think anything of it. I just thought I was tired, in fact, it hardly crossed my mind that it happened. In retrospect, I believe that I saw an angel come to take my mom to the other side one last time..."

Readers, I highly recommend this very moving, honest work by Paula. Like some of her columns, it moved me to tears but in a good way.

The book is available via her Web site:, one dollar of every sale is donated to in home hospice services in Michigan.

Paula didn't come to me to pitch her book. She thought I'd be interested in reading it and she was right. I hope she won't mind that I'm writing about it here this week. I'm doing so because I feel we all need a reminder that "love comes first." And because Paula's book is all about that and the unbelievable power it truly does hold.

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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