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Levittown Native Shares Her Story With Community

"Tea Leaves" author Janet Mason shares her book with community.

When Janet Mason's mother was diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer, Mason did what any loving daughter would do -- she became her mother's caretaker.

But the months she spent caring for her terminally ill mother left her with more than she expected. It became a learning experience about her family, complete with stories about her mother's life as well as her grandmother's.

She said she began penning a book on the experience for four to five years after her mother died, but had trouble getting it published due to the economy. Nearly 17 years later Mason published her book in April 2012.

The book takes place in both Levittown -- where Mason grew up -- and Mt. Airy where she now lives.

Although Mason said she believes many people experience what she wrote about in Tea Leaves: A Memoir Of Mothers and Daughters, it's not a topic often explored.

"It's telling a story that's not told a lot," Mason said. "It's a story many people can relate to [because] they have, are or will go through it."

But the untold story, she said, spans further than the reversed role of caretakers.

Mason's book also contains an array of issues like the LGBT community being expected to assume role of caregiver because of the perception of little-to-no family dynamic, a profit-driven health care system that didn't do all it could for her mother and labor history in Philadelphia for women, including her grandmother who was also profiled.

Mason has appeared in Huffington Post on both the issues of LGBT caregivers for the elderly as well as her opinions of the health care system.

Mason said the learning experience didn't stop with circumstances leading up to her book.

"I feel like I’ve become this cultural worker," Mason said. "I learned a lot from the perspectives of others."

Mason said readers -- gay or straight -- have been able to identify with her story. Among those, she said, was one of her students in her creative writing at the , who said "the sexual orientation didn’t matter to her and she could plug her late husband into the supportive partner role."

Mason said it's important to share her book with the community. She will host her next reading in at 7:15 p.m. on July 27 at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore at 551 Carpenter Street in Mt. Airy.

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