McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

December 18, 2013

"Hamilton’s Pond": Author writes children’s book with Enid setting

ENID, Okla. — Hamilton’s Pond is a real place in Enid. And now, the pond at 302 N. Coolidge is the center of a book that explains to children how to deal with death.

The stories are told through happenings around Hamilton’s Pond, which also is the title of the book by Kay Hamilton, who spent part of her childhood living at 302 N. Coolidge.

The book takes place in the 1970s and 1980s. Hamilton wrote the book based on a promise to her husband, J.C. Hamilton, a pediatric nurse, before he died in 1997. Hamilton herself is a registered nurse who worked with sick and dying children every day, she said.

“He knew I had the experience to write a book that could help children cope with death. It was four years after he died before I even began to think about it again,” Hamilton said.

In “Hamilton’s Pond,” she tells the stories through animals who gather at the pond. Most of the stories in the book are true, with names changed. The stories are designed to help explain the dying process. Hamilton uses the changing of the seasons and the lives of the animals to present the topic.

 “All children have lost a pet,” she said. “All things change and there is hope.”

One of the characters she uses in the book is a golden retriever named Cooper. Cooper actually belonged to neighbors of Hamilton’s in Pennsylvania, where she now lives.

“He does wonderful things — the real Cooper and the one in the story— to help children, as only a dog can do,” she said.

Cooper is good with children and sensitive to emotions for people of all ages. The dog goes to people, leans on them and stays with them, acting like he cares. In the book he does it for children.

“Children can express things to Cooper they can’t tell anyone else,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton lived in Enid from 1963 until 2001. She and her husband both trained to be registered nurses at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and worked there. They lived at 302 N. Coolidge and raised their six children. They built the pond so the kids in the neighborhood could have a place to gather and fish and spend time.

“My husband lived for watching those kids catch their first fish. It was the best time of my life. His memory will live on through this book,” Hamilton said.

The book follows the lives of Farmer, Mrs. Hamilton, Cooper and a group of barnyard animals. Through the changing of the seasons and the passing years, the book shows how animals are born and eventually pass on. Hamilton said death is a difficult subject for everyone and people tend to avoid it. Her book gives parents a way to explain it, with a message of hope.

She recalls reading the book to her 9-year-old grandson before sending it to the publisher. The boy said he was sad, then happy, and Hamilton said she was satisfied with that reaction.

“That’s the way it should be,” she said.

“It should give young readers a sense of hope and triumph in spite of death,” Hamilton said.

She said writing the book was a healing experience that gave her a focus when things were difficult.

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