Thelma T. Reyna’s award-winning book Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems is a heartfelt journey of healing from loss and grief



A book of love and heartbreak showing how memory is the sharp needle that stitches the fabric of our lives together. – Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D.

In Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems, former Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna captures the deep sadness and despair she felt after the sudden and untimely death of her husband – affectionately called “Dad” by those closest to him. When Dad went to a prestigious hospital one day for minor outpatient surgery, no one imagined he would die on the operating table minutes after being anesthetized.

In her first year of widowhood, Reyna worked through her grief almost alone, turning to thoughts about life as a dad and reliving everything they had built together during a 50-year marriage. In pages filled with wonder, humor and introspection, the reader accompanies Reyna through her early days of grief and on to her ultimate sense of transcendence as she introduces the world to the man she loved, offering a reminder to readers to never take life and love for granted.

It was cathartic, very raw at times… I started the book two weeks after his death and I wrote throughout the first year of Dad’s absence, until the first anniversary of his death.says Reyna.

This book captures the essence of Dad’s courageous and loving life: from early childhood, when his mother abandoned him, through his attendance at Thelma in college, his success as a teacher beloved and sports trainer, and all his life as a devoted husband and doting father. His book highlights how individuals “tend to live with longevity assumptions, time their interactions, engage in diligent tasks, and inevitably take each other and life for grantedsays Reyna. The book is an exhortation not to fall into this kind of complacency.

Dearest Papa is also meditative, with the beauties of nature bringing comfort and balm to the author, easing his grief and assuring him that love overcomes loss. Surrounded by reminders of papaya trees he planted, flower beds he created, benches he placed under the trees in their backyard, the author weaves loving memories into his healing journey.

As an international award-winning author, professional book editor, and book publisher, Reyna has written 6 books, edited 4 anthologies, and won 22 national accolades. As Poet Laureate and Emeritus, she has also led and contributed to countless literary events, festivals, readings, panel presentations, and workshops in California and Chicago.

As for why she wrote Dearest Papa, she sums it up like this:My goals were two-fold: to navigate the grief that I knew would consume my first year as a widow; and to pay tribute to my husband, Dad, and the impact he had on others through a life of service, overcoming challenges and always caring. I hope readers will bond with Papa, be inspired by him, and learn something about the unpredictability of life – its fragility and evanescence..”

The book was acclaimed by renowned literary professionals, authors and critics, and won a silver medal in a leading international book competition. Beverly M. Collins, poet and winner of the Naji Naaman Literary Prize, writes:Dearest Papa’ is a strong and humble testimony to how every millisecond of life is transformed into a bigger story that represents us all… a deep and detailed poetic account of love and mating.”

Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems is available through Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major book retailers. Readers looking for an incisive portrait of heartbreak, courage and catharsis can also purchase a copy via GoldenFoothillsPress.

About the Author, Thelma T. Reyna, Ph.D.

Thelma T. Reyna’s books have won 22 national and international literary awards. She wrote six books; edited three anthologies (poetry, personal essays, short stories) featuring over 170 authors from across America; and served as editor of the new book, Doctor Poets & Other Healers (2022). His works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, books, blogs and regional media for over 25 years. She was Poet Laureate 2014-2016 in Altadena, Calif., and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry in 2017. She is the founder and editor of the national award-winning independent press Golden Foothills Press, based in Pasadena, Calif. California. His doctorate. comes from UCLA. To learn more, please visit:

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