Thus Was Born Sebastian Skunk
What happened next was a call from the editor of (my professional organization’s newsletter, ASHA, as I am a speech/language pathologist). I was asked if I had developed any new communication programs for Dave and if so, could I write a followup to “Side By Side,” an award winning article I had written six years earlier. And so I did. The next step in my magical journey was a phone call from Dr. Michelle Bourgeois, a colleague who had read just my followup article. She was heading up presentations for the 2007 ASHA Convention, to be held in Boston that November 15, and asked me to present a workshop on cognitive-communication programs for dementia to include "Dave's Tale," picture book I had written for Grandson Joey. Having accepted the offer, I began writing my workshop and included a variety of programs, one for each stage of Dave's decline, ending with the picture book.
However several months before the Convention I was informed not to include any Disney pictures which were prominent throughout “Dave’s Tale due to strict copyright laws. Our conversation went something like this … "OK, I won’t include, Dave’s Tale.” “No, you have to it’s really important, just use pictures of other animals!” "I can’t do that, it’s based on a story.” "Well, quick write a children’s story with animal characters and then substitute those animals with the ones you used from Winnie the Pooh.” Several days later while driving and day dreaming I asked myself … "Self, if you were an animal like Eeyor, who had lost its tail, what kind of animal would you be?” Thus Sebastian Skunk was born in my imagination.
The rest of the characters developed over many years of research, trial, and error. These animals appear in "Sebastian’s Tale” and "Norton’s Tale,” two of the books already published in a series titled "Skunk Tales Trilogy!” The animals, who took on lives of their own, engaged in hilarious adventures, reestablishing the humor I had lost during Dave’s protracted illness. Their actions were so comical I found myself laughing out-loud as I wrote, and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine. Thus, through humor, my imaginary friends helped me cope both before and after Dave’s death. Ironically, because Dave passed away on November 15, I never had the chance to present my program, at least not at that ASHA Convention.