Lessons Learned from Lives Lived

By Lisa Dolan
For Hudson-Catskill Newspapers

Some months back, I received an electronic copy of “Just Dance the Steps” from author Giselle Massi. Giselle has local connections.

Giselle M. Massi was born in Rockville Centre, New York. She began seventh grade at Roeliff Jansen (Hillsdale) and graduated from Taconic Hills High School (Philmont). Area residents may remember her as Giselle Massa. She is the daughter of the late Joseph Massa Sr. who was a well-known and loved resident of Crow Hill, Ancram. Giselle was a writer and editor with The Denver Post for 16 years. She wrote a weekly television column including interviews with many of the greatest actors, writers, directors and producers. Giselle is the author of “We are Here for a Purpose: How to Find Yours,” and the magical-realism novel “Just Dance the Steps.” She has one daughter who is in medical school. Giselle now lives in Long Beach, California. She may be reached at www.gisellemassi.com.

I enjoyed reading “Just Dance the Steps,” taking it all in via two marathon evening sessions. It is a novel laced with love and compassion as the grown male children of deceased parents revisit years passed, and piece together the story that will impact their future.

Hal, predeceased by his loving wife Patricia, dies at age 58. He leaves three grown male children parentless. One month following his death, his sons Hal Jr., Daniel and Gerald receive a handwritten, 200-page missive from their father. It outlines a past that they are unfamiliar with, as well as wishes for a legacy they might choose to create. There are surprises in this account of their father’s younger life. It is a love story that they are unfamiliar with, a love story before their mother Patricia appeared on the scene, a love story that will transcend generations.

We all know that our own parents led singular lives before wedlock and family. Like us, our parents had their moments. There were the good, the bad and the beautiful. So many of those moments are shielded from children. Perhaps that is part blessing, part curse. In Giselle Massi’s story, she gives Hal’s grown children the chance to learn of their father’s incredible capacity to love.

Hal Jr., Daniel and Gerald are brought back in time in their father’s life, a life before he met their mother. A life before they were considered. The manuscript is a gift that they will come to terms with. It will help them understand true love and compassion as they administer the parting wishes of their father. Their father, who right up until his early departure from this earth, was able to love fully and unconditionally.

I am thinking lately about the entire aging process. What we as members of the human race, as we age, owe to our children, our parents and society as a whole. Massi’s novel fed beautifully into those thoughts. The fact that the novel contained some sparks of magic? Perhaps counting on a bit of magic here and there isn’t such a bad thing? Massi’s penchant for kindness is written all over the pages of “Just Dance the Steps.” Makes me look forward to what else she may have in store for her readers!

View the full review of Giselle’s book “Just Dance the Steps.”