It was a red-carpet affair at the Port Alfred municipal library recently when friends and family of Myrtle Gray gathered for the launch of her book, The Fatherless Daughter.
Gray, originally from Klipfontein, is an entrepreneur and life coach who founded the company StepOut and StepUp Pty Ltd.
Members of her community celebrated her success at the book launch, as well as voicing their appreciation for her courage and candour to write and speak about a pervasive social problem.
Introducing Gray, event MC Phyllis Jacobs said: “Myrtle wrote this book to bring hope to the vulnerable. She wrote about the impact of an absent father in her own life. It will give hope even to those in the most hopeless situations.
“This is not an attack or to pinpoint anyone, it’s to educate and help. There are also fatherless boys, but this is about a fatherless daughter.”
There were three brief selected readings from the book, which itself is a quick read at 120 pages.
After each reading by a member of the audience, Gray responded and elaborated.
In the first reading, Gray’s father visits her home and looks at all the photos and asks why there is no photo of him, as though he is oblivious of his absence from her life.
Another reading was about generational hurt.
“I am not a sorry case. I have conquered, I am grateful,” Gray said. “Because of God I am not a pity case.”
She said her book was about creating awareness.
She said the “invisible dad” she describes could come in different forms. “It could a man who comes home and is only concerned about his pay packet, or he goes to the tavern. He could even be a man of the church, a big time preacher, wearing a nice suit, but his children are zero, they don’t enter the equation,” she said.
“Fathers are supposed to be our protectors, our providers, to help us in our emotional development. Just to acknowledge your child is such a big thing.”
Gray said God gave her other parents in the community, homes where she found love and refuge. Some of those people were at the book launch.
“We all have cards to play. We can all blame our past. But we have to choose our happiness, it’s our responsibility to become unstuck. It has to start with forgiveness,” she said.
Mayor Khululwa Ncamiso was invited to the book launch, showed up late and left early, but said a few words about the book.
She said the book could be named The Fatherless South Africa.
“We are all fatherless, whether girl child or boy child. You wrote a book where gender based violence is prevalent. Children whose mothers are killed by their fathers or boyfriends, where we don’t even trust our brothers. This is the society we emerge from,” Ncamiso said.
“Writing this book means your words are written in stone – they won’t be forgotten. A woman from the dusty streets of Klipfontein, a small place no one knows about – you have told this story and become a healer.”
Gray thanked Brendon Hitzroth of Glitz & Glam for sponsoring the décor and Nicklon Cannon for sponsoring the juice at the book launch.