I’m sitting down with my buddy Bob Brawley to talk about his fascinating new non-fiction
book called Adopted by the Amish. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but
Bob, why don’t you give us a summary of what the book is about?
BB: Adopted by the Amish is the
true story about a young family’s pilgrimage from the modern world they knew
into the highly restrictive, simplistic, sectarian world of the Old Order
Amish. It is the story of a despondent and dispirited man, seeking to save his
marriage from the free-fall that has left it in shambles, a man determined and
committed to saving his marriage and reconnecting with God.
I think this is such a unique experience, especially in this day and age. What
would you say were the main drivers that led you to try out such a different
lifestyle? What was the draw, and what were you hoping that living in the Amish
community could do for you?
I joined the Old Order Amish seeking a better way of life for
myself and my family. To reconnect with my faith, to take a step back in time
when life was simple, uncomplicated and innocent, the way I remembered it was
on my grandfather’s farm. This was my second marriage and I wanted, more than
anything else in the world, to make it work. I thought that by removing myself
and my family from the stressful world we knew we could re-discover life as it
should be, the way it was meant to be, to find peace, harmony and happiness.
MJB: I think all of us can relate to looking for peace and happiness, especially in the turbulent world as it is today. Now, looking back on the experience from many years later, how do you feel
about it? Was it worthwhile? What did you learn then that still resonates in
your life now?
I’ll be 73 next month, and as I grow older I find I spend more and
more time reflecting on my life, my family, people I’ve met and things I would
“do over” if I could. The thing I would not change, the thing that has had an
ever-lasting impact on my life, is the special time I spent with the Old Order
Amish. Even today, I find myself looking at the world through “Amish eyes,”
remembering how simple and innocent the world was back then and how protected
and secure I felt. I cherish the bonds I made with my Amish family and
will forever hold dear the time I spent with these very special people, for
that very brief moment in time.
MJB: It sounds like it was a very special time, and it's surely beneficial that you are able to keep it alive in your heart. What would you consider the most challenging aspect of writing a personal story
Peeling back the many layers of my memories of living with the
Amish I relive the struggles and the good times we had, the wonderful people we
met and loved, and the feeling we had of being a part of a close-knit
family. I sometime find myself wishing I could turn away from this life and
return to those days, to once again sit in a horse drawn buggy and hear the
clop, clop, clop of hoofs on the dirt road, to see my Amish family’s faces, to
hear their voices, to breathe in the smells of a farm. The thought of it makes
my heart hurt.
MJB: Setting such highly emotional times down on paper is obviously a very difficult task, but you've done an admirable job of it. I’m curious about the evolution of the book. Did you imagine writing it down as
you were living it? Or did the idea to write it down come later? How long after
the fact did you start writing, and was it easy to access your memories?
I have never thought of myself as a writer, and did not think
about writing this story until five years ago. It’s not that I hadn’t thought
of the Amish and the time I lived among them. I had... In fact, I have
maintained communications with them to this day. Accessing my memories of those
special days has never presented a problem. I think about them most every day.
MJB: In my mind, the fact that you never thought of writing it down just goes to show how deep and compelling the experience was. Maybe you didn't think of yourself as a writer, but this was a story that had to be told. Are you working on any new books? Any other ideas in your head, or down on
I’m currently working on a memoir, “His Mother’s Son,” the honest
and intimate story of a boy’s personal experiences and anguish as he and his
family move from state to state and city to city, pursuing his mother’s dream
of becoming a singing star. He was a boy desperately trying to find inner
courage, his own identity and self-respect.
MJB: Sounds like another very emotional remembrance. You'll have to keep us posted on the progress of that one, as well. Now, let’s have a little fun here. Tell us three things about you that most people
don’t know and would be surprised to learn.
I worked as a cowboy on a ranch in Mustang, Oklahoma. I was a
boxer and trained with world-rated amateur and professional fighters: three of
which fought for world championships. I’ve driven the Alaska Highway seven
times, six of which when it was still gravel. I competed in drag racing for many years.
MJB: Obviously you are a multi-talented and multi-interested man! Thanks for sharing your story with us today, and if people want to find out more about you and your journey, how can they do