Postmarks On Our Foreheads: Collecting Stories Like Stamps

Kathy Sokolic Front Porch Flyer

Last fall, Jess Hagemann, a Mueller ghostwriter and owner of local business Cider Spoon Stories, was listening to an Austin hospice patient share stories from his days in Vietnam. She suddenly got the idea for a book. After nine months spent volunteering as a writer of Life Reviews for Gentiva Hospice patients, Jess felt passionately that the incredible stories she was collecting should reach a wide audience, not just the patients’ immediate family members and friends. If she could organize the stories into a book, the amalgamated wisdom and humor of Austin’s terminally ill population could be preserved while its members were still able to speak.

Because Jess wanted to publish the stories of all those participating patients at no cost to them, she hosted a crowdfunding campaign on the popular fundraising site Indiegogo. In 30 days, she raised the money to fund the publishing of a full-length book with Forty Acres Press. On July 26, 2016, the final product of their combined efforts, called POSTMARKS ON OUR FOREHEADS, launched at Cherrywood Coffeehouse. Three of the seven patients and providers whose stories are featured in the book attended the event. These folks each took the stage to read excerpts from the book, advocate for hospice care, tell hilarious stories from their own lives, and reflect on the project and process as a whole. Everyone learned something, laughed, or cried healing tears.

Although some of the patients who contributed to POSTMARKS ON OUR FOREHEADS have since passed away, their legacies will forever outlive them. The book is a celebration of life as much as it is a confrontation of sickness and death. POSTMARKS is available for purchase at Copies sell for $15, and all proceeds go toward funding the next book in the series. The goal of the series is to showcase the lives of different populations whose stories are historically undertold or silenced.