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Turning Grief into Gratitude — Writing Your Family’s Story

“Writing the book was extremely cathartic for me. I wanted to convey how ordinary everyday people, like my own parents, can be inspirational to others,” explains Parise. “I told their story from within my heart. They are my heroes.”

Many people describe the death of a parent as the unimaginable feeling of being untethered from the earth.

In 2016, Lorrie Parise, a public relations and community relations executive with The Howard Hughes Corporation®, experienced the loss of not one, but both of her parents in a 9-month span. This hardworking, single mother suddenly found herself in the role of the family matriarch.

As a way to combat her profound grief, Parise put pen to paper and wrote a non-fiction memoir titled, Biography of an Everyday Couple: Turning Ordinary into Inspirational. In it, she tells the tale of love at first sight for her parents, Alice and Fidel, who met at Fidel’s engagement party (he was engaged to someone else!). Parise flashes back and forth between present day as she cares for her ailing parents and past family milestones where we learn vital information about the family – like the importance of her parents’ kitchen table where there was always room for anyone who loved to eat and play or listen to music.

Additionally, Parise offers up song lyrics alongside her prose (she is a folk singer/songwriter/guitarist to boot) for the reader to glimpse the rich musical history celebrated in her family. We also learn Parise was adopted (which gives us great pause as we begin to grasp the gravity of the book’s title).

“My mother once said you can be born from someone, but a true mother and father takes a human being – and like a piece of clay, shapes them into the person they will become,” smiles Parise.

Parise provides the reader an honest depiction of caretaking for the dying and having the faith to know when it is time to let your loved ones go. She draws inspiration from her parents and takes pride in telling their story.

“Writing the book was extremely cathartic for me. I wanted to convey how ordinary everyday people, like my own parents, can be inspirational to others,” explains Parise. “I told their story from within my heart. They are my heroes.”

Inadvertently, Biography of an Everyday Couple forces us to recognize how culturally we are worshipping the wrong people — celebrities instead of our own elders, and how death is a taboo subject that need not be. Interestingly, Parise also shows us the inevitability of losing one’s parents can also be a positive and spiritual personal experience.

Parise describes moments during the writing of the book in which she felt the presence of her parents – guiding her to keep going and thanking her for sharing their family’s history. In the chapter entitled “Suegro,” Parise shares the tale of a found pearl button from her father’s dress shirt her mother used as a teachable moment about not wasting anything. The next morning, after Parise finished writing this chapter, she found a small pearl next to her computer keyboard. To this day, Parise still does not know where the tiny pearl came from.

The chapter titled “F-I-D-E-L” was inspired by an event Parise experienced during her mother’s final days on earth. Despite the fact Alice could only verbally communicate in rare instances and barely move her body, she somehow managed to muster up the strength and energy to speak and spell out her husband’s name, “F-I-D-E-L,” for Parise and her dad who was siting bedside.

A chapter titled “Dad’s Song” is very dear to Parise as her father was always her biggest music fan, encouraging her to pursue her natural musical talents. This chapter is based on a song she wrote for him that thanks him for the strength which he instilled in her.

The author’s singing, playing guitar and public speaking skills have come in very handy during her recent whirlwind local book “singing and signing tour” with appearances at The Glade Art Gallery, Black Walnut Restaurant in The Woodlands, Black Walnut Restaurant  in Vintage Park, The Woodlands Family YMCA at Branch Crossing, The Forum at The Woodlands and as an author at The John Cooper Signature Author Series. With many family members in attendance, Parise strums her guitar, sings her own songs, reads excerpts from her book and takes questions from the audience.

Parise holds a Master of Arts degree in English-Communications from St. Mary’s University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from The University of St. Thomas. She has worked for The Houston Chronicle and is a recent graduate of Leadership Montgomery County, a prestitgous, community spirited  nonprofit organization. Recently, she received the Viva Award for “Outstanding Involvment in Supporting the Community”, presented by the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Houston-The Woodlands-Gulf Coast Chapter.

Any praise she receives for the memoir, she quickly steers away from herself and points toward her family members who cheered her on during the 1 ½ year writing process, from start to publication.

One can only imagine Parise’s delight in now hearing her two newborn grandsons’ delightful squeals at the beloved and heirloomed kitchen table—illustrating how the circle of life continues on bringing as much joy as it does sorrow.

Biography of an Everyday Couple: Turning Ordinary into Inspirational can be purchased at Amazon,  Barnes & Noble and Walmart.  To learn more about Lorrie Parise please visit

The Woodlander  sends Lorrie Parise best wishes as she embarks on her next writing adventure, a non-fictional book “Life Goes On: Letters to my Grandsons.”