The Lone Cypress
by J. Collins Kerr
Trafford Publishing

"The more we have, the more we are slave to it. The irony of wealth."

There are often trade-offs in life for those individuals who possess an independent spirit and adventurous streak. Such was the case for Phyllis Reeves, a woman who never married, never had children, and never pursued any illustrious career. Yet in her 91-year life span, Reeves proved to be a self-made original that embodied the essence of a true renaissance woman. Here in a threefold collection of writing, poems, and travel anecdotes compiled by Reeves' niece, J. Collins Kerr, readers come to know the quirky yet tenacious Aunt Phyllis, a woman that loved to travel, spoke several languages, had a deep affinity for nature and animals, and often championed the underdog.

Whether working as a clerk at the American Embassy in Spain, hiking the hills of Athens with her beloved dog Chispa, teaching school on Midway Island in the middle of the Pacific, or viewing flora and fauna in the rainforest of Costa Rica, Reeves was intent on broadening her horizons. Kerr effectively reveals Reeves' love of art and poetry by including many of her aunt's works that pay homage to the beauty of nature, friends and coworkers, and even the unique personalities of her cats. Ever the teacher, many of Reeves' poems are written in French with English translations offered in the books final pages. Herein, Kerr also includes her own lyrical verse, a light-hearted yet sincere gift in ode to her mentoring aunt. The Lone Cypress also includes the collaborative efforts of two other nonagenarians (i.e. Reeves' sister Dorothy Wiley, and lifelong friend and artist Nylan Jeung who provided the ethereal cypress cover art, as well as other mystical landscapes).

At the heart of these personal contributions, and the additional memories and farewells offered up by family and friends, Kerr uncovers the portrait of a multi-faceted individual who was undoubtedly a positive influence on those she knew. Ultimately this book is a beautiful testament to the power of a solitary life. Reeves once said that she wanted to be remembered for her "guts and compassion." In this well-balanced, enjoyable rendering, readers will quickly learn that Aunt Phyllis truly had both.

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