Goodin pens book
of grandmothers life in hospital
to gain notes for writing book
(August 2010) Madison, Ind. author Sandie
J. Goodin was inspired to write the story of her missing grandmother,
whom she re-discovered in 2001. She recently published The Monkey
King and Betty Lou, a non-fiction narrative of her grandmother
as a 50-year resident of the Madison State Hospital.
Goodin found her
at Madison State
Hospital, where she
was a patient for
more than 50 years.
The grandmother, Betty Lou Roark, was initially admitted
to the Madison State Hospital in 1949 by her husband, the storys
Monkey King. Originally hospitalized by her spouse in Cincinnatis
Christ Hospital for post partum depression, she was released
two weeks later. While she was being treated in Cincinnati, she received
shock treatments as a part of her prognosis.
Soon after her first hospital release, she was admitted to the Madison
State Hospital for schizophrenia. She would remain at the state hospital
as a patient for more than 50 years.
Goodin, who uses the pen name Sandie J. on her book, had always known
about the existence of her grandmother, recalling a visit to her at
some insane hospital in Indiana as a small girl. It was
in 2001 when her grandmothers existence became all too real for
the author. She was an adult and was vacationing in Madison with a friend.
While driving up Hanging Rock Hill on their way to Clifty Falls State
Park, she noticed a sign for the Madison State Hospital. Upon seeing
it, she had an epiphany.
Thats it! she told her friend. Thats where
my grandmother was!
Despite her friends apprehension, the pair followed the sign and
drove to the Madison State Hospital grounds. Upon arrival at the front
desk, Goodin asked if her grandmother had been a patient there. The
clerk looked up the records and confirmed that she was. And still
is, the clerk informed them.
That statement stunned the travelers. The clerk handed Goodin a visitor
record card showing that Roark had only received four visits during
her lengthy stay. Goodin was surprised to see her own name, along with
her mothers, listed on the card. While it stirred an eerie feeling,
it confirmed her single childhood memory of her grandmother. She became
too wrapped up in the finding of Roark to continue her vacation.
Goodin found her grandmother in a horrible condition. She was
paralyzed and her eyes were matted shut. It was as if she had lost the
will to live, she said.
However, after each successive visit from Goodin, Roark became more
lively and interactive. The author went from visiting her grandmother
a few times per year to quarterly, then to monthly. As she visited,
she also made time for researching different parts of Roarks life.
It was during the viewing of Roarks records that Goodin decided
she had to tell her grandmothers story.
Eventually, through her visits and much research through
local sources, she put Roarks story into order. Her research trips
involved trips to the Jefferson County Historical Society and to the
Madison-Jefferson County Public Library. It was the Historical Society
that provided access to the photos for the book and its cover. Many
of the personal accounts are from the doctors notations in Roarks
own records, since Roark is no longer consistent to talk to about her
memories. Goodin said Roark has her good days and bad days but is very
outspoken about what she wants.
In 2007, Goodin moved Roark to a local nursing home. She wanted her
in a comfortable place where she could visit frequently and take her
to bingo games and church services. However, Goodin found the travelling
back and forth between Madison Cincinnati so overwhelming, she decided
to move to Madison. Goodin now owns and operates a small singles fellowship
business in Madison, while taking care of Roark. It was during the weekend
of Old Court Days 2010 that Goodin received full guardianship of her
Betty Lous mother always promised to go to court and get
custody of her. Its rather ironic that I got custody of her on
Court Days, Goodin said.
The Monkey King and Betty Lou is a self-published book and
the beginning of a trilogy. The first book spans 1949 through 1969.
Future books include a second book that will take place from 1969 to
1989, with the third covering from 1989 to the present day. Goodin started
on the Monkey King in 2005, finishing it around November
Goodin said her book sales are really taking off and that she is very
encouraged. My readers tell me that they love the book and cant
put it down. In fact, many of them are telling me that they are loaning
these books out. I am also told that the recipients (of the loans) are
purchasing their own copies, after finishing the book.
The Monkey King and Betty Lou
can be purchased at the Village Lights Book Store, That Book Place,
the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center and Sandie J.s website:
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