‘I Reserve the Right to Be Terrified’: La Jolla author pens his memoirs
After eight decades, La Jollan Blayney Colmore is sharing his thoughts on relationships and how death impacts life in what he calls his “fiction/memoir,” “I Reserve the Right to Be Terrified: A Long Life.”
Colmore, who served as rector of St. James-by-the Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla from 1987 to 1997, will sign copies of the book at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, at St. James, 743 Prospect St.
He will have another book signing at noon Sunday, March 26, at Warwick’s bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave.
He said “I Reserve the Right to Be Terrified” is “a fiction/memoir because I’m 82 years old [and] I think my memory is very unreliable. Everything in the book happened, but whether it happened just the way I write about it is a question mark.”
Colmore said the book’s title “comes from a conversation I had with a therapist, whom I asked if he ever looked forward to dying as a relief from all this that we put up with in this life. He said, ‘Well, yes, but I reserve the right to be terrified.’”
“I have always been known in my family as ‘the death man’ because I’m fascinated by the fact that we know we’re going to die, [which affects] the way we live,” Colmore said. “It makes the way we live much richer.”
His fascination with death began when he learned his mother delivered a baby boy named Garrett in 1938, who “died at about five minutes old,” he said.
“Soon thereafter she conceived again, which … she wouldn’t have done had this boy lived,” Colmore said. “And that conception was me.”
“I owe my life to Garrett,” he said. “Here I am at 82 still sucking up air that belonged to Garrett.”
“I have always been known in my family as ‘the death man’ because I’m fascinated by the fact that we know we’re going to die, [which affects] the way we live.”
— Blayney Colmore
Colmore said he has learned “how contingent everything is” on everything else. “I now see my whole life as having unfolded in unexpected ways in response to unexpected events and people, and it’s quite intriguing.”
“I Reserve the Right to Be Terrified” contains “lessons that I mostly didn’t recognize while I was learning, but now that I look back … I get it,” he said.
Colmore, who grew up in North Carolina, said he started writing the book for himself and to leave for his children, but his sister, a newspaper editor, encouraged him to send it to a publisher for a wider audience.
He completed the book in about four years and it was published in November.
“I hope that it will be provocative for people about their own experience,” Colmore said. He added that he wants readers to contemplate those experiences in a new light.
Colmore, who retired in 1997 to write full time and now splits his time between La Jolla and Brattleboro, Vt., previously wrote five novels.
“My mother is the reason I’m a writer,” he said. “My mother was an alcoholic agoraphobic who was a brilliant writer but had no self-confidence. She grew up in a world that didn’t value women’s strengths.”
Colmore said he didn’t “recognize the strength of the bond between us until after she had died.” He incorporated his feelings about that connection into his 2014 book “Dead Reckoning,” in which the main male character “finally recognizes the strength and courage that [his mother] kept pretty well hidden from the world when she was alive.”
“The whole ballgame” of life is relationships and “how people are with each other,” he said.
Colmore is still exploring that idea, citing his 43-year marriage to his wife, Lacey, as illustrating that “she’s my teacher. Most of the stuff I have a hard time with is stuff that I need to learn from her.”
“Every relationship gives us a chance to learn something new,” he added.
Despite the difficulty of failure, “that’s when we learn, and it’s what we’re here for,” Colmore said.
To purchase “I Reserve the Right to Be Terrified: A Long Life,” visit amzn.to/3HVK0et. ◆
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