A devout Catholic grandmother offers a memoir in which she shares her glimpses of God’s everyday miracles.
When most women are looking forward to retirement, Panaggio’s new life was about to begin. She’d just divorced her husband of 29 years, and had stopped the heavy drinking and partying that had been so much a part of her life. She also found a renewed devotion to God. In this brief, 100-page memoir, Panaggio shares a journal she kept for 28 years, beginning from her 1981 divorce. Her life is full of inspiring achievements: She spent her golden years acting in plays, commercials and even the occasional movie, running a modeling school, working as a talent scout, and in her spare time, writing poems and short stories. (The book cover mentions her 1998 chapbook Into the Spirit, A Poetic Witness and a few anthologies that included her works.) Those promising trappings, though, fall somewhat flat on the page. Instead, the book reads like an assortment of notes, jumping from one person, place or thing to the next, like a stone skimming across a lake. Readers learn that John, Panaggio’s co-star in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, died of AIDS, that her Aunt Angie gave her $600 to publish her poetry collection, and that her friend Marie accompanied her on a trip to Arizona. But readers receive little insight into who all these people really are; even the author’s children and grandchildren remain virtual strangers in these seemingly random entries. One consistent thread runs through these entries: the author’s belief in God’s power. To every friend, she offers a blessing, a prayer, or at the very least, a promise of salvation. However, grammatical and spelling errors crop up as often as Bible quotes; for example, the book describes an emotionless actor as too “blaze,” and reports that Panaggio went on an “Elder Hostile.”
An uninspiring collection of recollections, but one that avid fans of Christian memoirs may enjoy.