You know how you run into people at a party or wherever and they try to regale you with some story about how they accidentally bought a three-legged dog (which actually happened to Robbie’s aunt) or how they tried to use a cherry bomb to unclog a toilet (his uncle, who stood on the lid), and they wrap it all up and say, “My life should be a book!”?
For most people, that’s not true. Trust me. Partial dogs and imploded commodes will get you through the appetizer course, sure, but that’s about it.
For Dee Oliver, though, her life was a memoir screaming to be written. And, thanks be to God, it has been! The Undertaker’s Wife: A True Story of Love Loss, and Laughter in the Unlikeliest of Places, releases this month. If you’ve ever seen The Blindside or The Help or even a rerun of The Addams Family, you will read Dee’s story and think, “Can the movie be far behind?”
Okay, okay. So I’m a little biased. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the book with Dee. But even our minister liked it: “Southern women have found their Mark Twain in Dee Oliver!” is what he had to say. (Even before he got his free copy.)
Here’s a little excerpt from the back jacket, just to whet your appetite:
On Dee Branch’s first date with Johnnie Oliver, a fourth-generation funeral director, she knew she was in for a unique relationship when he had to leave “for just a minute” – and came back to the car with a corpse.
You can’t make this stuff up.
It’s not really a spoiler to let you know that Johnnie dies (you pick that up in the first chapter), or that Dee winds up working in an African American funeral home (which you can read for yourself on the back cover). I’d tell more (and believe me, there’s plenty, from the time Johnnie nearly choked to death on her engagement ring, to the funeral homily about the man who had been “drinkin’ and chasin’ women and never bein’ much of a daddy to his kids” and still got into heaven) but I’d rather you read the book for yourself. Part memoir, part how-to book, The Undertaker’s Wife is probably the best book I’ve ever read (and certainly the best one I’ve ever had a hand in writing) about the common ground of grief, the practicalities of death, and the ever-present faithfulness of God.
And here’s a nifty treat: By posting a comment on this blog, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free copy of The Undertaker’s Wife. Check back on Friday to see who won – I’ll reveal the “super lucky” winner (have you noticed that “super” is, like, the most popular blog word ever? Super cute shoes! Super easy dinner recipe! Super helpful tip for stain removal!) at the end of this post.
(If giveaways aren’t your thing, or if you’re like me and you aren’t really sure how to post a comment on someone’s blog, you can click here and buy the book for yourself.)
And, if you happen to be in or around Virginia Beach, Virginia, on March 25, please join us for a special book launch with Changing Seasons. I’ll be interviewing Dee and, even though she doesn’t know it yet, we’re going to take questions from the audience. Last time I heard Dee speak, a 76-year-old woman wanted to know “where you put the Botox.”
(If possible, please come up with a new question this time.)
(Although that was a good one.)
(I mean, people want to know.)
Hope to see you on March 25th…or on the blog!
BOOK GIVEAWAY UPDATE: Congratulations to Nancy Keshian of Winston-Salem, NC. She was the 7th person to comment on this post, and will soon be receiving her free copy of The Undertaker’s Wife. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it, Nancy!