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Book shares how Mantecan coped with challenges
Kathy Aartman-Weed proudly holds up the cover of her new book The Little Brown Bear – something she wrote about overcoming the difficult experiences in her life that she hopes will be able to help others. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
It would have been all too easy for Kathy Aartman-Weed to give up.

After growing up in a home that was plagued with problems that stemmed from the premature loss of two of her sisters, Aartman-Weed faced another tremendous life hurdle when her own daughter passed away after battling health problems for the majority of her life.

As if that weren’t enough, a fire in her home would eventually claim almost everything that she owned a few years later, and leave her questioning God about why she was being subjected so such adverse life circumstances.

But it was when she was walking through the charred remains of a dwelling that once contained “everything she ever wanted,” Aartman-Weed opened the closet door where she had stored her young daughters things after she had passed away and found that her brown teddy bear was left relatively untouched by the destructive nature of the fire.

That experience – which gave way to the title of her soon to be released book The Little Brown Bear – is one of several that she credits to giving her hope and allowing her to put the broken pieces back together by networking with other people undergoing similar circumstances.

The book – which is expected to be released in two weeks at large booksellers like Barnes and Noble and Borders as well as on – details her advice to people who might find themselves facing tough times in their own lives, and hopes that the words will be able bring solace to a pain that she knows all too much about.

“I figured that maybe if I could offer advice based on the things that I had learned in my own life, that it would let people know that they’re not alone in what they’re facing,” she said. “Regardless of how bad something might be, wonderful things can come out of it.”

While the loss of her daughter was devastating, Aartman-Weed would go on to have two more children that she never could have had if she had been caring full-time for her youngest child, and even though she had lost the majority of her possessions in the fire, her house was rebuilt to include a washing machine and a microwave – two things that she had never owned prior that time.

Life, however, had not been done finishing with its series of gut-wrenching blows.

In 2000 Aartman-Weed faced the break-up a long-standing marriage that left her alone for the first time in more than 30 years – an event that left her traumatized and unable to go to sleep for 37 days.
But by getting involved with a singles group at her church, she was able to turn to other people who were going through or had overcome similar scenarios which helped her get back to the position that would eventually lead her to the discovery of her current husband, Jerry Weed.

“Jerry’s the love of my life,” Aartman-Weed said. “It was another case of where something that seemed so devastating ultimately led to something wonderful, and for that I’m more than grateful.”

Through the process of listening to the stories of other families after she lost her daughter and the experiences she gained through the singles group at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Aartman-Weed said she felt that she had the ability to share those stories with people in order to possibly help them in their own difficult times.

The book – which is being published through AuthorHouse – took her roughly a year to write, and she expects to be holding her first copy within the next week.
Naturally, the yellow cover contains a picture of a brown teddy bear that Aartman-Weed had drawn herself.

“Now that the process is over, I’m hoping that somebody is able to pick up the book and find something in it that might be able to help them in their own lives,” she said. “That’s what the entire experience has really been all about for me.”