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Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago

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A terrifying diagnosis. An unbreakable bond. And one unforgettable journey. ”An epic love letter . . . Stunning, unique, unlike anything I've read before.” -- Julia Scheeres, Jesus Land: A Memoir Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother's cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced wit A terrifying diagnosis. An unbreakable bond. And one unforgettable journey. ”An epic love letter . . . Stunning, unique, unlike anything I've read before.” -- Julia Scheeres, Jesus Land: A Memoir Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother's cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced with the prospect of more chemo and surgery, his German-born mother, Inge, vows to conquer a 500-mile trek across Spain, and Cameron pushes aside his fears to walk by her side. Joined by a misfit band of adventurers - a politically incorrect Spaniard, a theatrical Frenchwoman, a teenager who's never been far from home - Cameron and Inge write a fierce and funny travelogue about the rocky heights and hidden valleys of the Camino de Santiago. As a Camino memoir in the tradition of James Hitt or Bill Bryson, Ordinary Magic delivers. But the hardest stretch comes three years later, when Inge's health declines -- and Cameron, ready or not, must accept the challenge to remain as present to his mother as he can. As their journey shrinks to the room around a hospice bed, Cameron begins to record, in their blog, his real-time impressions of life's most difficult voyage. What he created is one of literature's great love letters and a uniquely unflinching insight into how we all truly can create love and meaning in our lives, even amidst the fear and sadness we’ll all face from time to time. “Powerful, inspiring —and, amazingly, almost impossible to put down.” - Mary Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller Propelled by the searing immediacy of Cameron’s own fear and sadness, this deeply-felt memoir opens up new insight into what it means to be a man, and takes us - with wisdom, humor, and an overflowing tenderness - into one of the most challenging journeys true friends can ever take. If you like candid mother-son relationships (Inge’s last recorded words: “God I’m going to a hotel!”), humorous tales from the trail, and in-the-moment insights on living a life of resilience and purpose, then you'll love Cameron Powell's luminous, inspirational true story about pilgrimage, presence, and letting go. Ordinary Magic is the love story, the lifelong inspiration, the soulful laugh and cry you need in your life right now. Pick up your copy today by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top of this page! Then join our community celebrating the ordinary magic of love and resilience, and wake up your love for yourself and others. Studded with gems of spirited observation and wit. Is this black humor? If so, it’s of the most fond and loving sort, and Inge, Powell’s mother, emerges as an indelible heroine. Powell is a writer to watch. -- Mary Dearborn, Hemingway: A Biography AUTHOR INTERVIEW How did the story begin? Mom and I blogged while on the Camino de Santiago. Readers loved the travel writing, and said our journey was inspiring and hilarious. But when the Camino ended, I stopped blogging. What made you start again? Well, I had to write. I’d just realized, and was trying to accept, what I most feared: that my mother was going to die soon. My decision to share my path with others, on the blog, was one of the best I’ve ever made. The love was overwhelming, a light in my darkness. What surprised you most about readers’ reactions? People they saw the humor in it all.


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A terrifying diagnosis. An unbreakable bond. And one unforgettable journey. ”An epic love letter . . . Stunning, unique, unlike anything I've read before.” -- Julia Scheeres, Jesus Land: A Memoir Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother's cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced wit A terrifying diagnosis. An unbreakable bond. And one unforgettable journey. ”An epic love letter . . . Stunning, unique, unlike anything I've read before.” -- Julia Scheeres, Jesus Land: A Memoir Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother's cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced with the prospect of more chemo and surgery, his German-born mother, Inge, vows to conquer a 500-mile trek across Spain, and Cameron pushes aside his fears to walk by her side. Joined by a misfit band of adventurers - a politically incorrect Spaniard, a theatrical Frenchwoman, a teenager who's never been far from home - Cameron and Inge write a fierce and funny travelogue about the rocky heights and hidden valleys of the Camino de Santiago. As a Camino memoir in the tradition of James Hitt or Bill Bryson, Ordinary Magic delivers. But the hardest stretch comes three years later, when Inge's health declines -- and Cameron, ready or not, must accept the challenge to remain as present to his mother as he can. As their journey shrinks to the room around a hospice bed, Cameron begins to record, in their blog, his real-time impressions of life's most difficult voyage. What he created is one of literature's great love letters and a uniquely unflinching insight into how we all truly can create love and meaning in our lives, even amidst the fear and sadness we’ll all face from time to time. “Powerful, inspiring —and, amazingly, almost impossible to put down.” - Mary Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller Propelled by the searing immediacy of Cameron’s own fear and sadness, this deeply-felt memoir opens up new insight into what it means to be a man, and takes us - with wisdom, humor, and an overflowing tenderness - into one of the most challenging journeys true friends can ever take. If you like candid mother-son relationships (Inge’s last recorded words: “God I’m going to a hotel!”), humorous tales from the trail, and in-the-moment insights on living a life of resilience and purpose, then you'll love Cameron Powell's luminous, inspirational true story about pilgrimage, presence, and letting go. Ordinary Magic is the love story, the lifelong inspiration, the soulful laugh and cry you need in your life right now. Pick up your copy today by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top of this page! Then join our community celebrating the ordinary magic of love and resilience, and wake up your love for yourself and others. Studded with gems of spirited observation and wit. Is this black humor? If so, it’s of the most fond and loving sort, and Inge, Powell’s mother, emerges as an indelible heroine. Powell is a writer to watch. -- Mary Dearborn, Hemingway: A Biography AUTHOR INTERVIEW How did the story begin? Mom and I blogged while on the Camino de Santiago. Readers loved the travel writing, and said our journey was inspiring and hilarious. But when the Camino ended, I stopped blogging. What made you start again? Well, I had to write. I’d just realized, and was trying to accept, what I most feared: that my mother was going to die soon. My decision to share my path with others, on the blog, was one of the best I’ve ever made. The love was overwhelming, a light in my darkness. What surprised you most about readers’ reactions? People they saw the humor in it all.

30 review for Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Hamilton

    We know at the outset what we’ll be witness to in Cameron Powell’s loving tribute to his mother. What we quickly figure out from the start of the book is that Cameron is every bit as compelling as his eclectic, heart-on-her-sleeve mother. He tells the story of a Hail Mary play for forcing Inge’s cancer into remission again by hiking a trail that would frighten most healthy, able-bodies folks. There is so much more to the story than just the love that flows to and from Inge on the Camino de Santi We know at the outset what we’ll be witness to in Cameron Powell’s loving tribute to his mother. What we quickly figure out from the start of the book is that Cameron is every bit as compelling as his eclectic, heart-on-her-sleeve mother. He tells the story of a Hail Mary play for forcing Inge’s cancer into remission again by hiking a trail that would frighten most healthy, able-bodies folks. There is so much more to the story than just the love that flows to and from Inge on the Camino de Santiago. Cameron gives us a candid look into his own quirky personality, complete with his foibles and extraordinary intelligence. Not everyone can handle a gifted child, and it’s interesting to learn of the mother-son dynamic as Inge struggles to provide a stable home for him. Like many women who only see the good in people, Inge didn’t have much luck picking men. Cancer aside, she struggled to find happiness and make ends meet. But with the diagnosis, she girded herself for the battle and won, only to have her foe regroup years later to deliver the final blow. I didn’t know what to expect from a book where you know in advance what the outcome will be. But what I learned is that the journey is the whole point of life, and Cameron and Inge’s journey is one all of us can relate to, in one way or another. It is told with much humor by a man who knows his own shortcomings and knows the value of love and kindness.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Wong

    Highly engaging account of a son's love for his mother, and hers for him. This book is a journey for the reader, one with many paths laced with joy, sorrow, triumphs, humor, and most of all, forgiveness.  If you take this journey, be aware that around each bend you might encounter a colorful character or two, time travel (memories), ambivalent familial relationships, lasting friendships, and noble helpers. You will also traverse the difficult terrain of cancer, with its anguish, pain, terror, an Highly engaging account of a son's love for his mother, and hers for him. This book is a journey for the reader, one with many paths laced with joy, sorrow, triumphs, humor, and most of all, forgiveness.  If you take this journey, be aware that around each bend you might encounter a colorful character or two, time travel (memories), ambivalent familial relationships, lasting friendships, and noble helpers. You will also traverse the difficult terrain of cancer, with its anguish, pain, terror, and loss.   You might even learn something along the way about cuisine, music, and the historic Camino de Santiago in Spain, where pilgrims go to great lengths to walk that long and often challenging road.  WARNING: Expect to laugh -  expect to cry -  but most of all - expect to be inspired.     

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dalene W.

    This is a beautifully written book. It should be read by everyone. Cameron Powell writes about his walk on the Camino in France and Spain with his ailing Mother. It is a book with raw emotion as he faces what we all must face at some time in our lives...the letting go of our parents to death. I know all too well his journey but I could never have put it into words as he has done. An AMAZING read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    This is both a travelogue of the Camino de Santiago, as well as a diary of a son's last months with his mother. The first half is inspirational, hopeful and at times witty as two strangers join the son and cousin. It's not thorough enough to be a travelogue as it lacks detail in both daily lodging, expenses, and terrain. When the two tag-alongs, Julio and Maryanne, leave toward the end and it's just three people, the tone changes to a more somber one. The second half is depressing as the reader This is both a travelogue of the Camino de Santiago, as well as a diary of a son's last months with his mother. The first half is inspirational, hopeful and at times witty as two strangers join the son and cousin. It's not thorough enough to be a travelogue as it lacks detail in both daily lodging, expenses, and terrain. When the two tag-alongs, Julio and Maryanne, leave toward the end and it's just three people, the tone changes to a more somber one. The second half is depressing as the reader knows that Inge will not live. Regrets, flashbacks and medical terminology take over. These two parts, then, clash at times. The mother, Inge, is German and a foodie. She appreciates good food as much as she appreciates scenery along her walk. One feels for her, one cheers for her. In the second half her fatalism takes over. Now it's all about cancer. If you have recently lost a loved one, this book may only amplify your sense of loss. Read with caution.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna West

    “Kindness is an international language.” BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS Ordinary Magic is like declaring “Uncommon Typical,” it is an oxymoron, a paradox, and a contradiction. This love story is indeed magical but there is little, if anything, ordinary about it! In fact, one might say the entire novel is an extraordinary love letter from Cameron Powell to his mother, Inge, who is dying of cancer. This love letter encompasses various places and characters that are also uncommon and exceptional in thei “Kindness is an international language.” BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS Ordinary Magic is like declaring “Uncommon Typical,” it is an oxymoron, a paradox, and a contradiction. This love story is indeed magical but there is little, if anything, ordinary about it! In fact, one might say the entire novel is an extraordinary love letter from Cameron Powell to his mother, Inge, who is dying of cancer. This love letter encompasses various places and characters that are also uncommon and exceptional in their actions and their mutual love for Inge. The decision that Cameron makes to accompany his mother on the Camino Road comes from the “realization that the best things in life— health, resilience, longevity, happiness— come when we seek meaning rather than merely avoiding discomfort, when we cultivate gratitude and compassion in place of complaint or resentment.” The story gets underway in 2011 “On the Camino Road” an approximate 500 mile trek through the Pyrenees and parts of France and Spain and Basque country, where we encounter Julio, the Spaniard, and Marie Anne, also of Spanish descent but living in France, (who both join for part of the journey), 15-year old Carrie, a friend of 67-year old Inge, and Cameron, Inge’s son. It is here that Inge, forgoing chemo and taking hold of her own choice to deal with her disease, hopes to void her body of its remaining cancer. It is during this pilgrimage where one of the rituals at the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), the highest point on the Camino, is for pilgrims to leave something behind--a sort of “letting go.” It is here that we can assume that Inge let go of her need to control her cancer—but, by Gott, she would do it her way! She leaves behind a rock from the Black Canyon and her PET Scan. Cameron quotes Henry Miller--“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Certainly that is true of this hike, into which Julio and Marie Ann add so much spice and laughter about ordinary things, like Julio’s comment regarding a rude attendant “How much do you want for a smile? Two or three euros? Cheesus Chrise! Bloody spinster!” And other “bullsheet” comments including an unrestrained look for an unaccommodating/rigid woman who refuses to let Julio check-in a bit early for Inge (who is still on the Camino), so she can be near her son that evening. Cameron articulates: “Julio is looking at the woman like she has a backpfeifengesicht, which is the word Germans use for a face that’s sorely in need of a fist” and Julio eventually asks her where her broom is as she is beyond noncompliant and acts as if she is referring to “well-settled principles of international law.” Julio asks her “Why are you here? You don’ speak the language, and in your veins there is no blood, only Coca-Cola.” Cameron never seems to lose his sense of high hilarity regardless of the barrier he may encounter, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. There are a lot of tears shed on the trip, some born from deep emotional pain, others from sheer joy. Everyone should be so fortunate as to have a “Julio” come into his or her life, even for a short while. After Julio and Marie Anne depart, the remaining three finish trekking through the light and shadow of the landscape of the Camino and at their final destination they are literally blown away by the beauty of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. One should not expect this to be a simple straightforward chronology of the trek across the Camino; it is so much more. Cameron often deflects from the trekking storyline to share historical insights, religion, (often not completely accurate but always hilarious), viewpoints from Inge’s and Carrie’s travelogues, and memories from bygone times. There are also many colorful characters that Cameron so adeptly includes in his tale. Nothing about this entire novel is sequential or linear—it tends to roam of its own accord, always returning to the point of departure with the reader thankful for these ritualistic and often riotous and meaningful meanderings that add such color and depth to the story. As we get to know Inge we understand how Cameron’s attitude about life has developed and perhaps even become distorted. It’s all good. But the story doesn’t end after the trek on the Camino. No indeed, within the year Cameron returns to Colorado to live close by in Telluride until Inge finds a doctor she likes and trusts and decides in 2013 to resume chemo. Cameron will take you through living with his dying mother over the next 3 years, day by day in the final 8-week period. “This is what love is, or rather, strives to be: ever-forgiving.” And there will be so many players that come and go through this time that when they reach the care-givers’ party there are so many people that played a significant role in Inge’s life and she in their lives that you won’t be able to keep them all straight. Cameron’s writing during this experience is raw and undiluted and the reader will experience Inge’s last days with Cameron and the love and pain will be unbearable. Cameron and Inge take the reader through a failed chemo treatment and onto another, always hopeful, always diligent, what was there to lose? Inge eventually abandons this process and resorts to a cannabis oil concentrate that eliminates extraneous issues, helps her nausea and the side effects, helps her appetite but seems to diminish in its effectiveness by January 2014. Inge has fought the hard fight with Cameron literally by her side until the final moment and still Cameron continues, releasing some of Inge’s ashes in the Black Canyon that Inge loved so much and the remaining ashes find a permanent home in Germany much later. This is a novel of what its like to experience unconditional love, even through the hardest, meanest of times. It is an experience that anyone who has lost someone, especially through the ravages of cancer, can learn from and relate to. You’re never ready to let go and the pain of losing someone does NOT diminish over time. However, “It’s okay to feel sad.” But as our dear Inge would say, “don’t unpack & stay there.” “We are all just walking each other home.” —Ram Dass

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Mckibben

    I prefer fiction to non-fiction, but Cameron Powell's Ordinary Magic, part quest, part travelogue, part history, part biography, part long good-bye to his much-loved mother, captured my heart with its wit, honesty, and tenderheartedness. The book opens with Powell's 67-year-old mother Inge sharing her Big Idea: rather than submit again to chemotherapy for her recurring cancer, she should walk the 500 mile Camino del Santiago in Spain with her son. Powell's first reaction (unspoken but heartfelt) : I prefer fiction to non-fiction, but Cameron Powell's Ordinary Magic, part quest, part travelogue, part history, part biography, part long good-bye to his much-loved mother, captured my heart with its wit, honesty, and tenderheartedness. The book opens with Powell's 67-year-old mother Inge sharing her Big Idea: rather than submit again to chemotherapy for her recurring cancer, she should walk the 500 mile Camino del Santiago in Spain with her son. Powell's first reaction (unspoken but heartfelt) : “'Jesus, Mom, I'm trying to get a divorce here.'” Despite the bad timing – Powell is struggling not only with his impending divorce, but with the financial and emotional struggles that accompany it – he says yes. “. . . the best things in life – health, resilience, longevity, happiness – come when we seek meaning rather than merely avoiding discomfort, when we contemplate gratitude and compassion in place of complaint or resentment. I knew that my accompanying my mother on this adventure would be the best thing for her healing – and also the best thing for her belief, should things later get difficult, that she had at least lived, by which we mean lived with meaning. . . I called her up. 'Okay, I said. 'Let's go.'” Under Powell's pen, Inge emerges as feisty, tough, kind, charming and charismatic, and like many larger-than-life characters, often difficult to be around. The author notes her abusive childhood, her brief marriage followed by years of custody battles and financial struggles, while wondering whether he can abide her neediness in the weeks of walking that they will be in each other's company. This kind of honesty, as well as Powell's stylish writing and wicked sense of humor, save Ordinary Magic from becoming maudlin, although it is often moving. Their companions on the hike are 15-year-old friend Carrie, who promises to forgo “primping and electronics” for the privilege and 57-year-old Julio, a Spanish friend and Camino veteran whose droll comments make him an admirable Sancho Panza to Powell's Quixote. “Ju are my hero,” he tells Inge. “Cheesus Chrise!” he thunders when upset. Powell carries a laptop in his backpack -- “He'd forget his mother before he'd forget his computer,” Inge remarks to a companion-- so that he can record events and impressions as they happen, which gives the narration an appealing immediacy. The scenery is often beautiful, the travel difficult – Inge's feet are blistered, the temperatures rise to the 90s – but most days, it's just a long slog from auberge to auberge, the austere dormitories built for the Camino pilgrims. Powell exercises his sense of humor on the auberge snorers – “I definitely see him in the medals when all this is over, certainly on the podium” – and noisemakers - “I awake to the sound of a complete set of scuba gear with all the oxygen tanks, being dumped into the showers in the room above.” Many miles and adventures later, our doughty travelers reach their destination, Inge reenergized, and Powell cautious, but hopeful. Part two, “The Last Camino”, follows Inge's illness and death from cancer in 2014, three years after completing the Camino in Spain. “I am single-mindedly here now, on a conspicuous path, with my mother. This path has the virtue of my knowing, for the first time since the Camino, and like it or not, exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I am ferrying my mother to the other side, or at least to the Grenze, the border. . . While she is alive and able to feel either the pain of meaninglessness or the joy of meaning, I will be here to influence that story. . .” There is the sad contrast of the Spanish Camino with the present one: “We walk only to the bathroom. There's no cast of characters. No flowers or cathedrals, bridges or mochilas. Just a very small house, no bigger than a theater stage, and the words spoken by or to my mother.” Powell makes the conscious effort to record those words, and the result is an unsparing, but touching and intimate portrait of a beloved mother's last days. The scenes are often harrowing, but worth reading for the glimpses of a mother-son relationship that actually grows in love and forgiveness as Inge grows weaker. Ordinary Magic is difficult to classify, but easy to love.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘The love was overwhelming, a light in my darkness.’ San Francisco author Cameron Powell states he is a six-time startup entrepreneur, consultant and coach, a largely repentant lawyer, and a semi-pro karaokist.’ Blessed with a keen sense of humor he is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard Law School. In addition to writing Cameron is involved with work on blockchain and artificial intelligence. To date his books include TRUE HISTORY OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO and this sp ‘The love was overwhelming, a light in my darkness.’ San Francisco author Cameron Powell states he is a six-time startup entrepreneur, consultant and coach, a largely repentant lawyer, and a semi-pro karaokist.’ Blessed with a keen sense of humor he is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard Law School. In addition to writing Cameron is involved with work on blockchain and artificial intelligence. To date his books include TRUE HISTORY OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO and this splendid ORDINARY MAGIC. There are times when the proffered plot synopsis of a book s a fine starting point before discussing the book’s values. It is offered here: ‘Cameron Powell has always struggled with goodbyes. On the day his marriage ends, he finds out his mother's cancer has returned-and this time there may be no escape. Faced with the prospect of more chemo and surgery, his German-born mother, Inge, vows to conquer a 500-mile trek across Spain, and Cameron pushes aside his fears to walk by her side. Joined by a misfit band of adventurers - a politically incorrect Spaniard, a theatrical Frenchwoman, a teenager who's never been far from home - Cameron and Inge write a fierce and funny travelogue about the rocky heights and hidden valleys of the Camino de Santiago. But the hardest stretch comes three years later, when Inge's health declines -- and Cameron, ready or not, must accept the challenge to remain as present to his mother as he can. As their journey shrinks to the room around a hospice bed, Cameron begins to record, in their blog, his real-time impressions of life's most difficult voyage. What he created is one of literature's great love letters and a uniquely unflinching insight into how we all truly can create love and meaning in our lives, even amidst the fear and sadness we’ll all face from time to time.’ Well written and to the point, but what that overview only hints is the power of the message Cameron shares with his readers. Yes, the first ‘trip’ is hilarious and immensely entertaining – a fine substrate for a film. The Last Camino around Inge’s hospice bed becomes a deeply felt meditation on the true meanings of love, courage, manhood, and the loving kindness (even duty) of being present to those who are dying. Cameron’s notes cum book become a radiant story of loyalty, resilience, empowerment, and growth of that too nebulous subject of accompany the last conversation or the last exit from the living. This book will remain on the bedside table for us to absorb each time we say goodbye to a departing loved one. Magic it is, and we are the recipients of Cameron’s sensitivity and warmth. Highly Recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Farnoosh Brock

    What a beautiful and yet sad story with profound insights! This book is two stories, one is the walk on the Camino and the other is the heart-wrenching way cancer tears apart a family, particularly a son from his mother. This is probably the 4th book I've read on someone's experience of the Camino and every book was different in how they approached this very long walk. Cameron likes to tell us bits and pieces of the history of the Camino as well as the entries of the blog from his mom and a teen What a beautiful and yet sad story with profound insights! This book is two stories, one is the walk on the Camino and the other is the heart-wrenching way cancer tears apart a family, particularly a son from his mother. This is probably the 4th book I've read on someone's experience of the Camino and every book was different in how they approached this very long walk. Cameron likes to tell us bits and pieces of the history of the Camino as well as the entries of the blog from his mom and a teenage girl traveling with them, but he integrates all the stories pretty well. The Camino part is more about their experience, rather than giving the reader any type of specific guidelines or tips or what to do or not to do if you were to go on the trip. It's a memoir, following their adventures, and since the mother, Inge, is doing this to show her cancer who's boss, the brave amazing woman that she is, she does have ups and downs and so naturally, they take transportation for parts of the hike. Which emphasizes the rule: you do not have to walk every inch of the Camino for it to "count". Then the cancer returns when they are back home and the latter part of the book is the sad long journey toward death. This part was hard to read, and yet so necessary. I have never read a more detailed account of the last stages of cancer and never knew so much love and compassion and care and sacrifice could be between a son and his mom. It was truly bittersweet, and just lovely. I'm grateful to have read and experienced the story, and all the MORE grateful that it is a man who wrote this with so much vulnerability. Meeting Inge, if only through the writing of his son, was special. This woman who had tolerated an abusive father and an abandoning husband still had so much music and dance in her soul. Such a spirit! Such a lovely spirit!!! There were parts of the book where I felt slightly lost. Maybe the writing got a tad bit convoluted for me in terms of the back and forth between who was saying what. Even though Cameron is an accomplished writer, sometimes, switching between his younger self and his mother's voice and then himself got a little confusing. Also, a part of me was yearning for more lessons and insights from the Camino and that's okay. Every book follows its own natural path, no pun ;) and this was more focused on the story and past experiences of mother and son as they journey a particular stage of life together, with much reflection to their past. A beautiful theme of forgiveness and acceptance runs through the whole book as well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl Collmer

    I'm of two minds about this book... which makes sense because it's really two books. The first is a Camino memoir; the second is an even more personal memoir of accompanying a loved one to their death. I ordered it originally because it contained the magic words, "Camino de Santiago." Lots of people write about their Camino journeys, and lots of people really shouldn't have. This book stuck out to me because I previewed it, and Cameron is obviously a gifted writer. Head and shoulders above the a I'm of two minds about this book... which makes sense because it's really two books. The first is a Camino memoir; the second is an even more personal memoir of accompanying a loved one to their death. I ordered it originally because it contained the magic words, "Camino de Santiago." Lots of people write about their Camino journeys, and lots of people really shouldn't have. This book stuck out to me because I previewed it, and Cameron is obviously a gifted writer. Head and shoulders above the average Camino journaller, plus he had the added interest of his mother doing the Camino in place of chemo. All the ingredients of a good read, and it mostly was. The Camino is ancient, though, and I don't enjoy writers who can only see it through 21st-century eyes. It's too facile to look back 8 or 10 centuries, and judge people to be somehow less intelligent, less rigorous, less overall, because they aren't modern people. It's easy to poke fun. But I say, if you're going to write about people who lived in eras that are completely unlike our own, you need to immerse yourself in the culture, and avoid 21st century superiority. If you don't have the time or inclination to do that kind of research, then you should be careful not to judge. Same with Catholicism. You have to at least make an attempt to understand it before you verbally flush it down the toilet, with a disdainful sneer. There were a few offhand remarks that seemed quite ugly to me, and I had the sense they were made just to get a laugh. Again, easy to poke fun when you don't understand the culture you're writing about. Obviously I didn't like the tone the author took toward things he didn't make any real attempt to understand. So as a Camino memoir, it lacked intellectual girding and respect for history. The second part of the book, in which the author is caring for his mother as her cancer grows more dangerous and far-reaching, is very earnest and honest. There were parts that made me wince, as some things seemed too intimate to be sharing publicly, but it IS honest. Inge was very much like my own mother, and Cameron put the whole personality type into a nutshell: prickly yet needy. As he negotiates his own responses and history with his mother, I could see myself over and over. And as he was able to overcome the frustration and irritation and guilt that go along with trying to love a challenging maternal personality, my heart rose with hope. He reaches a point that I hope I can reach: compassion and pure love. I can see the second part of this book being extremely good company for any adult child caring for an ailing parent.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary E Trimble

    Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk by Cameron Powell is an inspiring memoir about the sometimes rocky love between a mother and her son. On the day Cameron’s marriage ends, he learns from his German-born mother, Inge, that her cancer has returned. Incredibly, Inge wants her son to join her on the 500-mile walk of Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage known in English as the Way of Saint James, located in northwestern Spain. The two, mother and son, ar Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk by Cameron Powell is an inspiring memoir about the sometimes rocky love between a mother and her son. On the day Cameron’s marriage ends, he learns from his German-born mother, Inge, that her cancer has returned. Incredibly, Inge wants her son to join her on the 500-mile walk of Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage known in English as the Way of Saint James, located in northwestern Spain. The two, mother and son, are joined by Cameron’s young cousin, Carrie, fifteen, and friends who act as guides in the first part of the walk, Julio and later, Ann Marie. They begin their journey in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, near the border with Spain. The memoir, written mostly through Cameron’s journal and also includes thoughts from Inge’s journal, shows grit and determination along the often grueling journey. Inge suffers from not only from the effects of cancer, but also from infected feet. Cameron, too, has leg problems. At times one or the other rides a distance, but mostly they stick to walking up steep hills, as difficult to climb as to descend, and across barren or rocky land. They also trek through breath-taking lush landscapes. Accommodations are often uncomfortable with several people, and their assortment of snores, sleeping in a single room. Food is sometimes questionable, but they usually find nourishment along the way. The 35-day trek ends at Camino de Santiago with visits to the magnificent Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galacia, Spain. Cameron and his mother’s journey continues after they return home and Inge goes into her final agonizing journey with cancer with Cameron as her loving caregiver. Ordinary Magic is often humorous with wry comments about life in general, and this walk in particular. It also contains many words of wisdom about living life to the fullest, embracing new experiences, and accepting sadness as a natural part of life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ellington

    This is really two books in one. The first is the story of the author accompanying his cancer-stricken mother walking the entire Camino de Santiago. After discovering the cancer that had been in remission for 10 years had come back, Powell's mother decided she would put off more chemotherapy. Instead, she decided to walk The Camino. I'm not a hiker, not even much of a walker, so walking over 700km in good health sounds daunting to me. The fact that this woman (she's used to hiking in the canyons This is really two books in one. The first is the story of the author accompanying his cancer-stricken mother walking the entire Camino de Santiago. After discovering the cancer that had been in remission for 10 years had come back, Powell's mother decided she would put off more chemotherapy. Instead, she decided to walk The Camino. I'm not a hiker, not even much of a walker, so walking over 700km in good health sounds daunting to me. The fact that this woman (she's used to hiking in the canyons of Colorado) not only dreamed of making the hike but did it. Carrie, a 15 year old cousin, accompanied the duo along with other friends they'd recently met Julio and Marie Anne). Imagine, a teenager with no make-up and little cell-phone coverage! The walk, the food, the alberques (dormitories where they slept enroute), the scenery, Powell weaves it all together making it sound, not like a walk in the park, but actually doable in measured daily treks. Mother and son are pictured at the beginning and the end of the walk on the book jacket. So much hope, determination and love are clearly visible. Book 2 tells how Powell cared for his mother through her final battle with cancer. It brought back a lot of memories for me - the hospital bed in the living room, pain meds, portable toilets next to the bed, long days and nights with little sleep. My heart grew as Powell tells of the relationship with his mother. How they expressed forgiveness for perceived failures and love that grew deeper than the deadly cancer. How to live again after the final goodbye. Beautifully written, I'd recommend this book to those who like reading memoirs, stories of how other people live through hard times, and/or adventurers who want a glimpse into the Camino itself.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Cameron Powell has written a very intimate account of his mother Inge’s battle with ovarian cancer and his own transformation through this journey of the spirit. When he first learned of the reoccurrence of his mother’s cancer, he had just initiated a divorce from his wife, Melissa, and was struggling with Tourette’s disease. Inge had had enough of chemo with her first bout with cancer and wanted him to accompany her on an adventure. She proposed walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile network Cameron Powell has written a very intimate account of his mother Inge’s battle with ovarian cancer and his own transformation through this journey of the spirit. When he first learned of the reoccurrence of his mother’s cancer, he had just initiated a divorce from his wife, Melissa, and was struggling with Tourette’s disease. Inge had had enough of chemo with her first bout with cancer and wanted him to accompany her on an adventure. She proposed walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile network of pilgrimage paths in Northern Spain and France that traverse the Pyrenees Mountains. Cameron felt the timing could not be worse with the turmoil in his own life but consented to go with her. He knew he was easily irritated by her and had conflicts with her from his childhood. He felt she did not really see him nor listen to him. Exquisitely, Inge’s strength and beauty shine through her pain. She wins the admiration of her companions, the teenage Carrie, Julio, Marie Anne, and her own son, Cameron. Her courage is amazing. Despite the pain she is in, Inge walks most of the Camino with only an occasional bus ride at the times when she cannot continue. Love fills Cameron’s heart. He and his mother become powerfully connected with incredible beauty and tenderness. Her eventual painful death from cancer leaves him stunned. Memories of her suffering stay with him. He learns that the pain of losing a loved one never really goes away. Life is full of pain and beauty. This memoir is beautifully written. I was pulled into the lives of these wonderful people and blown away by the experience.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adeline Mirren

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful mom! This memoir tells the story of a man, Cameron Powell, and his mom, Inge, who has cancer. Many of the passages come from his journal and his mother's journal. Early in the book, they set off to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago, as a sort of play for forcing Inge's cancer into remission. I really liked this part of the book- it's inspirational, the descriptions of the Camino were bright and vivid and it sounded like a fantastic experience. That ends What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful mom! This memoir tells the story of a man, Cameron Powell, and his mom, Inge, who has cancer. Many of the passages come from his journal and his mother's journal. Early in the book, they set off to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago, as a sort of play for forcing Inge's cancer into remission. I really liked this part of the book- it's inspirational, the descriptions of the Camino were bright and vivid and it sounded like a fantastic experience. That ends about halfway into the book and then it tells the story of what happened after walking the Camino, which is, unfortunately, a bit dull at times and also a lot more somber than the first section. However, Cameron Powell is such a relatable guy, and his memoir is candid and poignant which makes up for the parts that start to get boring. This is a lyrical journey about the wonderful relationship between Cameron and Inge and the lovely journey that is life. And I quite want to walk the Camino de Santiago after reading it. I was provided with an e-copy of this book via the author in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    Everyone should read this book. If you've ever walked one of your parents 'home' you will laugh and cry your way through this book. It will make you want to be a better parent to your adult children or even little ones. It will make you want to apologize now for being a crappy parent or the crappy parent you think you are/were. It will make you want to fix your family sh*t before it's too late. Cameron and his lovely mother had the time to travel these roads together as he nursed her and finally Everyone should read this book. If you've ever walked one of your parents 'home' you will laugh and cry your way through this book. It will make you want to be a better parent to your adult children or even little ones. It will make you want to apologize now for being a crappy parent or the crappy parent you think you are/were. It will make you want to fix your family sh*t before it's too late. Cameron and his lovely mother had the time to travel these roads together as he nursed her and finally walked her home. Until you have DONE this, you don't realize how extremely difficult and yet an absolutely beautiful thing it can be to BE there at the end. It is truly the hardest gift you will ever be given. This is a book above love and forgiveness. If you haven't gotten to this point in your life you may not get it, but for those who have, it will hit home, sometimes right in the gut! This book will WAKE YOU UP! Wake up, people, let the old stuff go! Accept your people for who they are and just love them. Thank you, Cameron Powell for writing this book. It is now one of my favorite books.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Ingrao

    Are you planning to walk the Camino de Santiago? Several of my friends have added this famous walk to their bucket list. I have not, but I've contemplated going with them. If you are considering the journey, PLEASE read this book first, Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago. I think now that I had better be committed and really WANT to go. The Impact of Travel on Dynamic People Cameron Powell’s mother wanted to go on the 5 Are you planning to walk the Camino de Santiago? Several of my friends have added this famous walk to their bucket list. I have not, but I've contemplated going with them. If you are considering the journey, PLEASE read this book first, Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago. I think now that I had better be committed and really WANT to go. The Impact of Travel on Dynamic People Cameron Powell’s mother wanted to go on the 500-mile-walk on the Camino de Santiago even though she had cancer. He agreed to go with her even though he didn’t always get along with her perfectly. (What adult child ever gets along perfectly with his or her parent?) As he describes their experience on the Camino, he shares the fascinating story of his life with his mother including the reason she changed his name. I loved his fabulous descriptions and the wonderful interactions he had with his mother during her sickness. He has a heart of gold.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jane Blanchard

    I loved Cameron Powell Camino Book, Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago. This true story is about a boy and his nature-loving, gregarious mom, Inge, who is dying of cancer. Her final wish is to walk the Camino in hopes that nature will help her beat cancer. Mr. Powell is a talented storyteller. This book celebrates his mother, her life, and their relationship. His story is honest and does not sugar coat his mom, his re I loved Cameron Powell Camino Book, Ordinary Magic: Promises I Kept to My Mother Through Life, Illness, and a Very Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago. This true story is about a boy and his nature-loving, gregarious mom, Inge, who is dying of cancer. Her final wish is to walk the Camino in hopes that nature will help her beat cancer. Mr. Powell is a talented storyteller. This book celebrates his mother, her life, and their relationship. His story is honest and does not sugar coat his mom, his relationship with her, or her disease. For this reason, she becomes alive and I connect with her on many levels. The backdrop is the Camino and the pilgrims they meet. Hiking the Camino is life-changing, and the story is about their change. I found it irresistible. If you like true stories of courage in facing life’s struggles or hiking adventures, be sure to read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Forsythia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the second book I’ve read about grief and the Camino. The first was Kerry Egan’s Fumbling. The story captivated me and I fell in love with the depth of Inge and the relatable thoughts that flew through Cameron’s mind. I was a little tired of reading descriptions of history and religious buildings on the Camino trail—but the adventures the ragtag group had at each spot were a perfect balance. The last half of the book detailing Inge’s death absolutely tore me in two. I have lived this dual This is the second book I’ve read about grief and the Camino. The first was Kerry Egan’s Fumbling. The story captivated me and I fell in love with the depth of Inge and the relatable thoughts that flew through Cameron’s mind. I was a little tired of reading descriptions of history and religious buildings on the Camino trail—but the adventures the ragtag group had at each spot were a perfect balance. The last half of the book detailing Inge’s death absolutely tore me in two. I have lived this dual life of welcoming death and bitingly railing against it. And as the daughter of a mother who died, it struck chords in me I forgot existed. You can tell Cameron spent TIME and HOURS and HEART on this book. Worth a read. Absolutely.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen Fox

    As I read the book, I felt like I was part of the journey from the beginning. The strength of Inge was impressive and amazing, and I wondered how she was able to dig so deep to keep going when walking the Camino. And yet, she did. I experienced so many different emotions which included happiness, laughter, sadness, love, empathy, friendship, kindness, pain and sympathy. And there were times when tears were streaming downing my face and my eyes were so blurry, I could no longer see the words. In t As I read the book, I felt like I was part of the journey from the beginning. The strength of Inge was impressive and amazing, and I wondered how she was able to dig so deep to keep going when walking the Camino. And yet, she did. I experienced so many different emotions which included happiness, laughter, sadness, love, empathy, friendship, kindness, pain and sympathy. And there were times when tears were streaming downing my face and my eyes were so blurry, I could no longer see the words. In the end, what moved me the most was the love and the bond between son and mother, and how he took care of her until the end. Often, it is the daughter not the son. It was a moving, authentic and tender story that captured my heart.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yana Albrecht

    Book review Please read this book wherever you are and share with your loved ones! I’ve read it on the plane. Seeing my reaction, my next seat neighbor took a photo of the book cover with his phone. According to him, I trying to suppress my weeping, was laughing at times and was obviously having a terrific time reading the book. Love and loss and our ability to deal with both is what makes us human, and Cameron Powell captures it with the mastery of a top notch writer and the sensitivity of an ama Book review Please read this book wherever you are and share with your loved ones! I’ve read it on the plane. Seeing my reaction, my next seat neighbor took a photo of the book cover with his phone. According to him, I trying to suppress my weeping, was laughing at times and was obviously having a terrific time reading the book. Love and loss and our ability to deal with both is what makes us human, and Cameron Powell captures it with the mastery of a top notch writer and the sensitivity of an amazing human being. He is definitely one of the most emphatic storytellers I have encounters in my life as a reader.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ina Bone

    Eloquent writing Mr.Powell writes creatively, beautifully, about love, forgiveness, pain, grief, joy, adventure, intelligence, endurance, life, death...This is a must-read for those of us too busy to feel. A tribute to "healing into death". Powell's writing style is like an original opus: literary music. Four stars instead of five due to my own discomfort with his mother's lingering physical pain, despite my clear understanding she only let go when her body completely failed her will to live. And Eloquent writing Mr.Powell writes creatively, beautifully, about love, forgiveness, pain, grief, joy, adventure, intelligence, endurance, life, death...This is a must-read for those of us too busy to feel. A tribute to "healing into death". Powell's writing style is like an original opus: literary music. Four stars instead of five due to my own discomfort with his mother's lingering physical pain, despite my clear understanding she only let go when her body completely failed her will to live. And perhaps my own longing for having received the love he experienced from his mother.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    (This review is for the audio version.) Given the author's self-acknowledged gift for voices and song, and his intimate knowledge of the content made this audio book particularly special. At times, I heard his voice get thick with emotion, and in some ways it was almost like listening to a friend. Even if you read the book vs. listen to it, Powell has a gift of language and narrative, able to weave together the story of his own journey, his and his mother's trek on the Camino, and her cancer jou (This review is for the audio version.) Given the author's self-acknowledged gift for voices and song, and his intimate knowledge of the content made this audio book particularly special. At times, I heard his voice get thick with emotion, and in some ways it was almost like listening to a friend. Even if you read the book vs. listen to it, Powell has a gift of language and narrative, able to weave together the story of his own journey, his and his mother's trek on the Camino, and her cancer journey into a heartening, and often heart-breaking story filled with humor and love.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carl W.

    I started this book expecting a solid travel memoir, and it is that and so much more. Of profound significance are Powell's timeline leaping observations about his life, his mother, and his relationship with her. I was also completely floored by the book's final third, which takes place years after their Camino trek has ended. If this book doesn't make you stop what you're doing and call a loved a one, nothing will! I started this book expecting a solid travel memoir, and it is that and so much more. Of profound significance are Powell's timeline leaping observations about his life, his mother, and his relationship with her. I was also completely floored by the book's final third, which takes place years after their Camino trek has ended. If this book doesn't make you stop what you're doing and call a loved a one, nothing will!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stanley W

    Saying farwell..so very hard! Having gone through this with our family, I can relate to many of the emotions. So difficult, in the end. They are in pain...how much is too much? In the end...I also tried too stay in the moment, memorizing the shape of his hands, his face, the fun times we had been able to share. All too soon, he was gone! Loved the title, Promises I Kept to my Mother.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie Phillips

    Highly recommend this story! It took me awhile to get through, but so worth it. I felt like I was there with them on their journey! Beautifully written :) What an amazing woman. Everyone could learn from her. I bet she touched a lot of people through the website and Facebook and wish I would have known about them then!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    Humorous, well-written and poignant. I’m walking the Camino this fall, and appreciated the real life daily insights of the first half. His mother’s perseverance, and Cameron’s willingness to help her achieve her goal of walking the entire Camino, were inspiring. The second half, as his mother is truly dying , is more difficult, but very good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donna Engler

    Beautifully written Long, but worth every minute it takes to read it. I felt like I knew Inge after just a few chapters. So much love. I would like to know more about Cameron. Did you ever find a new life partner?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved this book. It was deep, and touching and witty. And for anyone who has witnessed the true face of cancer- this was a gift. He painted the story of love, and kindness and vibrancy in life, which cannot be dampened by hardship. It made me cry, and laugh, and reflect.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Denzel L Struchen

    Enriching A story of triumph through the adversity of life trials. Of a walk thought impossible and a life that faced cancer with dignity and strength

  29. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Coleman

    A long journey Great walk thru El Camino....something I’ve wanted to do myself for sometime . Tedious journey afterwards...something I’m reluctantly about to do.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol Neubert

    So very hard to read...but so very glad I did.

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